Lake County Forest Preserve District officials have informally decided to sell 41 of 45 pier rights acquired with the purchase of the former campground near Antioch, as boating is not expected to have a big role in development of the Lake Marie Forest Preserve.
Commissioners also appear to favor basic improvements initially when the preserve eventually is opened for public use, instead of more involved features to include a new paved road and restrooms, for example, that would add to ongoing annual expenses.
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During recent discussions, members of two forest board committees determined the district did not want to operate a large-scale enterprise on the only forest preserve holding on the Chain `O Lakes. Staff was directed to begin negotiating with an auction house for the sale of the excess piers, although the actual sale will require a formal vote by the full board.
"I'm happy with one pier," said Commissioner Linda Pedersen, whose district includes the Lake Marie area. "I think we should have some (public) access," by boat.
The Army Corps of Engineers regulates piers on the Chain and has frozen the number available. The forest district assumed the pier rights when it bought the former Lake Marie Camp property in fall 2012. Because those rights are deemed abandoned if they are not used during the boating season, the district received a two-year extension until the 2015 season before they have to be operational.
Mike Tully, the district's director of operations and public safety, had asked for direction so he could begin the sale process if need be.
"They're worth something, we don't know exactly what. Between $3,000 and $10,000 per pier," he said.
Tully also will contact the Army Corps regarding the possibilities of another extension for any remaining piers to allow time for a master plan for Lake Marie to be developed.
"Usually, people want to put piers in the water. They don't want to hang on to them," he said.
None of the commissioners favored selling the rights to all the piers, although some favored keeping more than four as they are a finite commodity. Tully said the piers generally provide room for two boats but that can vary depending on the configuration.
As for the development of the site, a basic version at $104,500 involves using the existing gravel road and providing a 20-car gravel parking lot and access to the lake for car-top water craft, such as canoes and kayaks.
The more involved development option was estimated at $685,000 for a new paved entrance road, 30-space paved parking lot, restroom, mowed picnic area, lake access for car-top watercraft, two piers for boats and a fishing pier.
A hybrid of the two plans, which would keep the basic gravel access and add four piers and a courtesy dock, also was discussed but no final decision was made. An extension from the Army Corps on the requirement for piers to be installed by the start of the 2015 boating would be needed before work could proceed on a revised plan.
Expenditures for basic Lake Marie improvements are included in the district's 2017-18 capital plan, though the timing and extent can change.