Allerton Park upgrading accessibility through major projects

MONTICELLO, Ill. (WCIA) — A trio of projects are currently underway at the Allerton Park and Retreat Center in Monticello. Each project aims to improve the area’s accessibility, including a multi-use path, rentable power chairs, and the park’s first accessible trail.

An off-road multi-use path is under construction at Allerton Park and Retreat Center. It will eventually run about three miles from the North entrance to the Sun Singer (seen here). Photo by Steve Hoffman/Allerton Park and Retreat Center.
An off-road multi-use path is under construction at Allerton Park and Retreat Center. It will eventually run about three miles from the North entrance to the Sun Singer (seen here). Photo by Steve Hoffman/Allerton Park and Retreat Center.

The multi-use path started its first phase of construction after receiving more than $130,000 from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. The first phase will focus on Allerton’s West Entrance and up to the iconic Sun Singer Statue. This portion will consist of crushed rock. Micah Putman, Allerton’s Associate Director of Park Operations, expects the work to complete in 2025.

Eventually, the path will extend to the North Entrance, running along Old Timber Road. It will be three miles long in total.

“We hope that this connection will bring a new recreational opportunity to the park while increasing safety and connecting the park more intimately with our neighbors and wider community,” Putman said.

Monticello park projects to begin construction this year

New power chairs purchased by Allerton Park and Retreat Center will make it easier for visitors with limited mobility to enjoy the park. In this photo, Adam Bleakney and Stephanie Wheeler try two of them out during a demonstration. Photo provided by the Allerton Park and Retreat Center.
New power chairs purchased by Allerton Park and Retreat Center will make it easier for visitors with limited mobility to enjoy the park. In this photo, Adam Bleakney and Stephanie Wheeler try two of them out during a demonstration. Photo provided by the Allerton Park and Retreat Center.

Allerton Park was also able to purchase three electric power chairs thanks to a $7,349 grant from the Community Foundation of East Central Illinois and a generous donation from Brenda and Wayland Eheart. People with limited mobility will be able to check out the chairs and use them to better enjoy the area.

One chair will be able to withstand rougher terrain, while the other two chairs can handle paved and graveled paths. They each include orthopedic rotatable seats, with one chair even being two-seated.

“[We] estimate that there are up to 10,000 limited mobility visitors to the park annually. There is a dire need to serve those visitors with mobility support to access the various physical attributes of the park,” Allerton officials stated in the grant application.

The last, but certainly not least, of the projects is Wandering Woods — the park’s first inclusive woodland trail.

Construction on the trail began in November. It will be situated in a wooded area near the main parking lot and will have a fully accessible concrete surface. Phase one of the project should finish up later this year. Future phases will include creating a play area for families.

In addition to awarded grants, park officials attribute the progression of these important efforts to Friends of Allerton Fundraising and other donations. If you would like to contribute to these projects, visit Allerton Park’s website.

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