With village officials shooting down multiple proposals to turn the dilapidated former Camelot School in Palatine into a subdivision, the property instead will become green space known as Meadowlark Park.
The Palatine Park District recently acquired the 12 acres near Dundee Road and Northwest Highway from the Spicer family for $1.7 million.
"Parcels of that size are few and far between," Executive Director Mike Clark said. "We don't have a master plan in place for it, but to have open space just made sense."
The Palatine village council last March denied a proposal from the nation's sixth-largest homebuilder, K. Hovnanian Homes, to build 47 single-family homes on the property. Officials cited the developer's need to conform to lot- and street-size standards.
A 2006 proposal to build 89 townhouses also went nowhere.
Camelot was a private school serving students with behavioral problems and other disorders for more than 30 years beginning in 1974. It moved its operations to Maryville in Des Plaines in 2006.
The park district board this month approved bids to demolish five structures on the Camelot property including dorms, a kitchen and a building where the school caretaker lived. They're each in disrepair after sitting vacant and neglected for several years, Clark said.
A structure previously used as a horse stable will be spared, however. Meadowlark Park is located just east of Palatine Stables, which is owned and operated by the park district.
Clark said Mane in Heaven, a Richmond, Ill.-based nonprofit organization dedicated to providing animal-assisted activities and therapy with miniature therapy horses, has asked about leasing the space.
In the meantime, the Palatine police and fire departments are using the site for training exercises.
Clark said that once the structures are razed, mobile classroom units removed and the landscape cleared of dead trees and brush piles, crews will carve out a horse trail. The site will be secured until the park district is ready for the public to access it.
"Other than that, we have no formal plans," Clark said. "But since we already own eight acres there (at Palatine Stables), basically having a 20-acre piece of property in the northwest quadrant of the park district could be beneficial down the road."