The last of four buildings fronting Lily Lake was demolished Tuesday, as the start of a bigger plan for the signature Morrison Park in Lakemoor.
"We're finally doing something," said Village Administrator David Alarcon. "We've been planning and planning for two years. Now, it's the execution."
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The village last fall spent $234,900 to buy neighboring homes at 103 and 105 W. Lakeshore Drive with the intent of expanding the park, which includes a small beach on the lake. A restroom facility and a garage owned by the village were the other two buildings cleared this week.
The intent is to enlarge, beautify and upgrade the park, which bends around the north and east sides of the lake, and is visible from busy Route 120. Taking out the buildings has opened the lake view and provided more space for the popular Lakemoor Fest, Aug. 10-12.
"We're striving to make the community not only better but more enjoyable," said village Trustee Jeff Nykaza, who chairs the board's public works committee.
A new restroom facility is being designed to replace the one that was demolished. It will be smaller and similar in style to one at nearby Heritage Park but won't be in place probably until next spring.
Otherwise, the area where the buildings stood will be leveled and tapered and left as open space.
"It's an investment in the land," Mayor Todd Weihofen said. "We're trying to get the park where it should be for the residents."
The village also is pursuing a state grant to design and build a 3,500-foot long, 8-foot wide pedestrian/bicycle path to connect Morrison and Heritage parks, which is on Darrell Road just north of Route 120.
The $390,000 project would include lighting along Willow Road and Riverside and East Lake Drive and a designated bike lane on Darrell from Route 120 north. Village officials hope to learn the status of that grant within about a month.
"It's the beginning phases. Eventually, we'd like to link up those trails -- if we do get the grants -- to the state parks, Moraine Hills and Volo Bog," Alarcon said.
The village also is talking with state and federal agencies about the possibilities for restoring the shoreline of Lily Lake.
"We're really looking for that park to be our centerpiece," Alarcon said. "Hopefully, the residents will understand it's part of a bigger picture."