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updated: 2/25/2014 4:44 PM

Grants, efficiencies free money for more Lake County forest preserve projects

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  • Expanding the dog exercise area at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda is one of 10 projects that will be added to the forest preserve district's capital improvement plan. Through grants and other work coming in under budget, district officials were able to free up about $1.7 million for the new projects.

       Expanding the dog exercise area at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda is one of 10 projects that will be added to the forest preserve district's capital improvement plan. Through grants and other work coming in under budget, district officials were able to free up about $1.7 million for the new projects.
    JOE LEWNARD | Staff Photographer, 2010

 
 

A bounty of short- and long-term projects have been added to the Lake County Forest Preserve District's big picture plan for the next five years.

Due to grants that were received or work bids that came in lower than expected, district officials were able to free nearly $1.7 million for 10 new or previously unfunded projects.

Many, like a tunnel under Route 45 to connect the Raven Glen and Ethel's Woods forest preserves near Antioch, have made the list but are not scheduled to start for a few years.

Others, like the clearing, mowing, seeding and fencing for a 5.5-acre expansion of the Lakewood Dog Exercise Area near Wauconda into the former Four Winds golf course at a cost of $60,000, are expected to occur this year. Accessibility improvements at all dog areas are proposed over the next three years for $150,000.

Some of the items, such as the county's $3 million share of a massive program to address flooding and water quality along the Des Plaines River involve several components.

"It's a good balance of public access and habitat restoration," said Randy Seebach, director of planning, conservation and development.

The proposed capital plan has been under review for several weeks. As of Monday, all forest preserve board committees have signed off on the complete list, which besides the 10 new projects, includes 12 others that already had made the cut but needed to have the funding adjusted.

Other new listings include the county's $2.6 million portion for several projects involving a federal efforts to enhance the bluff, ravines and shoreline at Fort Sheridan, and $3.5 million for maintenance, repair and replacement of the district's 90 buildings.

The list also includes $105,000 for a short road and gravel lot to allow for public access to the new Lake Marie forest preserve, but that is not scheduled until 2017-18.

"It is basic," Seebach said of the proposal. "It will be our only public access to the Chain `O Lakes."

The remainder of the new listings include $25,000 to install a 1,500-foot section of bike path along Petite Lake Road between Route 59 and Fairfield Road; $3.25 million for a tunnel beneath Route 45 to connect Raven Glen and Ethel's Woods forest preserves beginning in 2017-18; $350,000 for a trail connection linking Gurnee, Grandwood Park and other areas to existing trails at Rollins Savanna and the Millennium Trail beginning in 2017-18; and $75,000 for fencing, gates, benches and other amenities at the Pine Dunes Forest Preserve.

The committee recommendation is to include the project list in the district's overall 2014-15 budget, which is expected to be approved in May.

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