Two projects expected to greatly increase recreational opportunities in the Lindenhurst area are moving forward, funded in large part by federal and state grants totaling more than $3 million.
The larger of the two is a pedestrian underpass at Grass Lake Road, about a mile west of Route 45, to connect trails in McDonald Woods Forest Preserve and the Lindenhurst Park District's Oak Ridge Park.
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The $3 million project will connect a vast network of existing and future trails through parks, forest preserves (including the Millennium Trail), subdivisions and Millburn Middle School, according to Tom Lippert, the park district's executive director.
"There's a whole connection system," Lippert said. "Obviously, it's going to be a benefit for anybody traveling countywide, if you will."
The trail system received high priority from the public in a comprehensive community and bicycle plan for the area.
Lippert said the federal grant will cover 80 percent of the project. The park district, Lake County Forest Preserve District, village of Lindenhurst and Lake Villa Township will pay equal shares of the remaining cost, he said.
Cooperation among agencies was key in moving the plan forward, Lippert said.
"A lot of strong support, which is really appreciated, because otherwise it wouldn't have happened," he said. Construction is scheduled to start this year.
The park district also learned this past weekend it would receive a matching grant of $400,000 from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources to develop Oak Ridge Park.
With a $750,000 matching state grant, the district purchased the 18-acre parcel between Grass Lake Road and Independence Boulevard in 2007 for open space. It has remained open since, although a pedestrian path was installed with the intent of it someday being connected to other systems.
Proposed park improvements include a splash pad, 9-hole disc golf course, picnic shelter and restrooms, a full-sized soccer field, wetland and woodland enhancement and other amenities.
"The latest projection is $1.1 million to complete the entire park and the planning," Lippert said. That work won't start until mid to late 2014 to allow for construction of the underpass, he said.
"We know for years to come it will be a benefit," he said.
More information on each project is available by clicking on newsroom and plans at www.lindenhurstparks.org.