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posted: 8/14/2014 5:30 AM

Plan emerges to save Lake Zurich park

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  • Kuechmann Park is on Old Rand Road in Lake Zurich. A plan has emerged to preserve the park that village officials identified for possible sale.

       Kuechmann Park is on Old Rand Road in Lake Zurich. A plan has emerged to preserve the park that village officials identified for possible sale.
    Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Bonnie Caputo

      Bonnie Caputo

 
 

A plan has emerged to preserve a Lake Zurich park on Old Rand Road that has been identified by village officials for a possible sale.

Resident Mike Kleeman presented the Kuechmann Park proposal to the Lake Zurich park and recreation advisory board Tuesday night. He went before the same panel that had recommended in February to sell the 8-acre site.

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Under the tentative plan, the land would be improved as a "natural park" with upgraded trails, a fitness area and enhancements in the habitat for existing wildlife and migratory birds. Phased-in work would begin in September and continue through 2015, with an estimated $45,000 budget mostly from donations.

Lake Zurich Recreation Manager Bonnie Caputo worked on the proposal with Kleeman and other village volunteers. One of the plan's goals is to create a place for families to gather to play, learn, exercise and explore.

"Everything that's in this, I think, are realistic plans," Caputo said Wednesday. "I think the timeline is very realistic."

Kuechmann Park received new life in June, when Lake Zurich village board members agreed to delay a final vote on whether sell the land for home development after hearing from several concerned residents.

Lack of use, deteriorating playground equipment and other problems were cited in the advisory board's recommendation to sell the site. The recommendation was forwarded to the village board, which has final say on all issues.

Advisory board members in February voted 6-1 in favor of selling Kuechmann as a site for single-family home construction. The recommendation to the village board also called for 50 percent of sale proceeds to go into Lake Zurich's park improvement fund.

Caputo said the park and recreation advisory board is expected to address the Kuechmann proposal next month. The park is across from the village's namesake lake.

"We sat down over the course of a month to put some meat in the plan," she said.

Kuechmann has 74 trees, with all but six deemed to be in good condition, according to a village inventory completed in June. Most trees are at least 100 years old, and some top 200.

In pressing their case against selling Kuechmann, residents have expressed concern about the loss of the trees, open space and wildlife. Some residents have offered to help revive the park.

Speaking at last month's park and recreation advisory board session, resident Paul Waspi said he would volunteer his land planning talent. Another resident, Barry Luneburg, said he's a retired maintenance engineer and would contribute his skills.

As part of the park improvement plan, Kleeman would perform volunteer work in the first phase by treating cut buckthorn at the site after obtaining a herbicide license from the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

The park is named for Alton M. Kuechmann, who was Lake Zurich's mayor from 1953 to 1957 and founder of the plan commission.

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