Another piece in a multipronged effort to establish a center of activities and business in Lakemoor could fall into place, and it comes with a prominent but somewhat mysterious feature.
Village officials on Thursday will consider the purchase of 10 acres on the south side of Route 120 adjacent to village-owned property fronting Lily Lake, a signature amenity along the heavily traveled road.
Seven acres consist of water and lake bed. The three acres of land are vacant, save for a curious tower made of textured cement block that was thought to be built in the 1920s or 1930s.
"I've heard different stories about it. I don't know what is or isn't true," said Matt Dabrowski, the village's newly hired and first director of community and economic development. "It is a very interesting and unique element. By restoring it or renovating it, it does create a nice landmark feature."
It also could serve to strengthen the community's identity, he added.
The asking price for the two parcels is $250,000, which is $50,000 below the last sale, according to Village Administrator David Alarcon. One of the properties is in unincorporated McHenry County and would need to be annexed.
The intent of the additions, which have a view of Morrison Park on the east side, would be to expand the current park system to create a more usable public area. It also increases the village's control over the lake, Dabrowski added.
"We want to keep the properties around the lake as open as possible," he said.
There are no immediate plans for the tower, which probably would be renovated as a visual enhancement for the Route 120 corridor, which carries about 25,000 vehicles per day.
Village officials have taken or are considering actions on several fronts to identify and develop a town center, improve open space and parks and connect the points via a path system.
The town center has been identified in the recently updated comprehensive plan as the area south of Riverside Drive to Route 120 between Eastlake Drive and Lakeview Drive -- an area within walking distance of nearly half the village's population.
That area is comprised of a mix of businesses and homes, but the village envisions it as a mixed-use development with retail and entertainment uses on the first floors and residential above. Dabrowski said a market study will be prepared to determine what might work in that regard.
Parks are also a key part of the overall concept. The village expects to continue to expand Morrison park, but also recently acquired three vacant lots at $800 per lot to eventually expand the hidden 3-acre Petersen Park at the end of Pine Grove Road abutting the Glens of Lakemoor subdivision. The village previously has bought lots in the area but there are more to be acquired.
"It allows us to start talking about how to plan and program the space and connect it to the rest of the park system," Dabrowski said of the recent acquisitions.