Island Lake officials look into community garden possibilities

Updated 7/26/2010 1:54 PM

Island Lake officials are investigating whether to create a community garden for residents at a local park.

Proponents of the concept are eyeing land at Veterans Park, which is on Route 176 near Lakeview Drive, for the garden. Plans call for the site to be called Victory Gardens, a reference to the citizen-tended gardens grown during World War II in the U.S. and other nations to reduce pressure on the wartime public food supply.


Trustee Don Verciglio is especially keen on a spot near the decommissioned Bell Cobra helicopter that stands on the west side of the park. The area would need to be cleared of trees if a garden is built there.

Village leaders have commissioned a wetlands study to determine if the spot is appropriate for development. Baxter & Woodman, the village's engineering firm, will conduct the investigation.

The proposal has several foes, among them Trustee Laurie Rabattini. She believes the wooded area, which includes a public trail, should be protected from development.

"After seeing it myself, I have vowed to do whatever it takes to keep it intact," Rabattini said in an e-mail.

Verciglio said he proposed the idea earlier this month because many communities have cleared land so residents can plant flowers, vegetables and fruit.

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"It's going over very big," he said.

Batavia, Des Plaines, Naperville, Schaumburg and Wheeling are among the suburbs with community gardens. Some towns, such as Itasca, have garden clubs that grow their own produce at communal plots and donate the goods to local food pantries.

Community gardens are popular, Verciglio believes, because many people live in townhouses or apartment buildings and don't have space to garden at home.

Mayor Debbie Herrmann said she's heard from several townhouse residents who "would love the option to plant food and vegetables for the summer."

The wooded land near the helicopter is being considered rather than an already open space in the airy park because officials want to keep as much of the park open as they can, Verciglio said.

But the proposed location is only speculative, Herrmann said.

The exact location and size of the garden would be determined based on the results of the wetlands study, which will cost the village a maximum of $3,500.

A timetable for the study was not available.

If the village proceeds with the garden, residents would be asked to form a planning committee, Herrmann said.