South Elgin’s Panton Mill Park nears completion, to reopen in early September


The $5 million revamp of the Panton Mill Park in downtown South Elgin is almost complete and will reopen in early September, officials said.

Work continues at the riverfront park, with some of the key amenities like the sound stage and pavilion already visible to drivers and other passersby along State Street or La Fox Street. The targeted completion date is Sept. 4.

“This will be a premier park in the Fox Valley, whether it be for fishing, for using the new splash pad, for rentals – it’s a new day for South Elgin,” said Parks and Recreation Director Kim Wascher.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its effect on construction delayed the park’s reopening by a few weeks, said Village Administrator Steve Super.

Originally, the park was to be ready for the village’s annual Riverfest, typically held in mid-August. However, given that South Elgin canceled Riverfest months earlier, officials no longer had to finish the park before any vendors or amusement rides were set up.

“I think if we didn’t have COVID-19, we would have met the early August deadline,” Super said.

Along the riverfront, the new bike and pedestrian paths were ready for use. Prior to this project, park visitors had to cross all grass if they wanted to fish along the river, for instance.

Super said the pathways will connect with the path below the State Street bridge; the connection will make it easier for users to get to SEBA Park, County Park, the Duerr Forest Preserve, and/or the Fox River Trail.

Near Village Hall, workers continued work on a 61-nozzle splash pad; village officials will be able to control the splash pad remotely. The splash pad’s metal roof will be installed on or around Aug. 17, Super said.

Farther north, the park’s two tallest amenities have begun to take form. The skeleton for the nearly 24-foot-tall sound stage was already up. Still under construction was a concrete path for bands, artists, and acts to lug equipment easier to and from the stage.

The curved stage sits a few feet above ground level, providing panoramic views of the river, the park, and potential crowds of people once large gatherings become the norm again, said Super.

“We think the view from up here (for performers) will be beautiful,” he said.

The pavilion skeleton is up as well, with roofing to be done this week, said Super. The 4,500 square-foot pavilion will have stone-wrapped columns, concrete flooring, and a big enough space for large gatherings. Once open, individuals and groups will be able to rent the pavilion.

Also available for future reservations is the concessions/comfort building just south of the stage. The building will include concessions space, bathrooms, and storage. Super said this building presents potential for local fundraisers, whether it be a local Boy Scout troop, school group or someone else.

Other features of the park are less noticeable for visitors but just as important, officials said. The 25% increase in parking space in Panton Mill means there are now more than 200 parking spaces from Panton Mill down to the other side of State Street by County Park.

The park’s power supply – relocated to just outside the concessions building – is more convenient and more powerful, said Super. The upgrade means there should be fewer power generator rentals for future events like Riverfest, he added.

It is uncertain at this time if there will be a grand opening event for Panton Mill due to COVID-19, officials said. Nonetheless, the project is a welcome distraction for the village as it weathers the pandemic.

“It’s given people something to look forward to,” said Wascher.

 Article courtesy of the Chicago Tribune: