Our gardens and grounds crews are in the midst of an ambitious schedule of improvements to the Chautauqua Institution grounds as we ready for the upcoming season. A number of significant projects are underway, including several that tie into or fall under our long-term Stormwater Management and Sustainable Shoreline action plans. Here are current or upcoming initiatives and updates on where they stand:


In March, National Park Service representatives Bonnie Halda and Kathryn Schlegel conducted a two-day, on-site inspection of the Chautauqua Institution grounds, including a hands-on review of the Amphitheater structure and its context within the landmark district. Read their report from that visit here (PDF), and how the Institution is responding to the NPS recommendations here.

Repairs to the northeast corner of the Amphitheater, where a tree-top column failed in March, begin shortly and will be completed in time for the facility to host the All-County Spring Festival on June 6.


Following last off-season's tree survey and assessment, the Institution has begun to implement a master plan for Miller Park aimed at improving play, safety, accessibility and stormwater management in one of the most popular public spaces on the grounds. Work this spring will focus primarily on the upper Miller Park area, along with an expansion of Children’s Beach and additional play apparatus installation. Remaining improvements to lower Miller Park are planned for post-season. CHQ staff are currently at work installing a new lighted pedestrian brick walk connecting Simpson, the Promenade and South Lake Drive. The walk will bisect a newly installed rain garden at the South Lake roadside, just north of the lawn bowling green. Another rain garden will be installed at the top of the park along Simpson.


Work continues on the South Lake Drive lake edge shoreline re-naturalization project between the Sports Club kayak ramp and Foster Avenue. In-lake work was completed as planned before the start of fish-spawning season. Native-species plantings will be installed in the late spring.

Plantings are also currently being installed on the rebuilt North Lake Drive landslide area along with rain gardens and a wetland at the bottom of the slope, all while maintaining the existing pedestrian pathway. 


Further north on North Lake Drive, the University Beach area and hillside is scheduled for major improvements. The dirt and gravel service road leading to the lakeside will be rebuilt to fix an ongoing issue with washouts. At the North Lake roadside, a series of new rain gardens will gather and funnel stormwater to a new slow-trickle waterfall feature adjacent to the University Beach staircase leading to more rain gardens at the lakeside. We anticipate this work will begin pre-season but will not be completed until post-season.

With the help of weirs consisting of one-ton boulders embedded into the creek bed at strategic locations, the South End Ravine creek now features a number of pools that slow stormwater and allow nutrients to settle before reaching Chautauqua Lake.


Work began this week to resurface roads on the south end of the grounds, including all of Emerson, Whittier and Longfellow and the lower half of Hawthorne.


The maintenance plan determined by this off-season's comprehensive tree assessment will cause temporary disruptions to road and parking access within the central portion of the grounds into May. Great Lakes Tree Service crews have completed about 75 percent of the spring schedule of tree pruning and removal.


CHQ has hired local contractor Paramount Roofing to complete three major roofing projects on Institution facilities prior to the season. Work began this week on a complete roof replacement at the Chautauqua Police Department. Next is replacement of two lower roofs on the east and west sides of the Hall of Christ, and last is complete replacement of the Hultquist Center roof.


The public restrooms at the Brick Walk Cafe are currently undergoing complete renovation designed to update the facilities and make them handicapped-accessible.