The Elgin chapter of the Izaak Walton League of America has found a new owner to take over 11 acres along Poplar Creek with the promise of furthering its conservation efforts.
Hanover Township officially took ownership last week with the unanimous support of its board.
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"This is a tremendous gift by the Izaak Walton League to the residents of Hanover Township, not just now, but for future generations," Supervisor Brian McGuire said. "It ensures the property will continue to be there for residents to access and enjoy."
The land at 899 Jay St., Elgin includes three developed acres west of Poplar Creek featuring a lodge, parking lot and garage. Eight acres of undeveloped woodland on the east side of the waterway also are included in the donation.
The township, which serves nearly 100,000 residents in Bartlett, Elgin, Hanover Park, Hoffman Estates, Schaumburg and Streamwood, plans to relocate its Elgin satellite office on One American Way to the lodge sometime this summer. Its Youth and Family Services department also will offer various programs on the property.
Tom Stewart, president of the Elgin chapter's Home Corporation, said the Izaak Walton League has been active in the area since the 1930s. Membership has fluctuated, however, and the rising cost of maintaining the property due to erosion, insurance and other expenses prompted the group to seek a new owner.
McGuire said discussions took off last summer after the organization inquired about using a dump truck to haul away debris from the creek.
Stewart said it was important that the township agreed to allow both the league and the Boy Scouts to continue holding meetings in the lodge. He was pleased that township officials want to complete the archery range and create an interpretive nature trail.
"It was obvious to us we faced a battle keeping up the property, and Hanover Township has the resources to promote it," said Stewart, adding that an agreement is in place to return the land should the township not wish to conserve the area.
McGuire said the township will spend about $200,000 over time updating the lodge and is seeking a Cook County Community Development Block grant to assist with the renovations. He also said officials did a cost-benefit analysis on accepting the land gift, and that the "benefit far exceeds the investment."
The league, which works to conserve, maintain, protect and restore soil, forest, water and other natural resources, created Walton Island in downtown Elgin.