Old Mill Creek raises opposition to draining Rasmussen Lake

  • Old Mill Creek opposes the removal of Rasmussen Lake near Antioch, which is owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

      Old Mill Creek opposes the removal of Rasmussen Lake near Antioch, which is owned by the Lake County Forest Preserve District. John Starks | Staff Photographer 2005

Posted3/31/2012 5:55 PM

Plans to drain a hidden lake near Antioch have been in progress for years, but now a neighboring community is voicing its opposition.

Old Mill Creek Mayor Tim Smith, in an email forwarded to the Lake County Forest Preserve District, says his village board opposes draining Rasmussen Lake in part because the lake could add a premium to high-end homes envisioned in the village's comprehensive plan.


The letter is listed as correspondence on the agenda for a Monday meeting of the district's planning and restoration committee.

Rasmussen Lake is part of the Ethel's Woods Forest Preserve, east of Route 45 and south of Route 173 on property acquired by the Lake County Forest Preserve District in 2001.

The serpentine, milelong lake was created in 1957 when a private property owner dammed Old Mill Creek. Situated amid extensive woodlands, the area has a Northwoods feel, but it has not been open to the public.

The site adjoins the Raven Glen Forest Preserve and is considered part of a natural greenway corridor. But the lake is filled with about 4 feet of sediment, has poor water quality, no aquatic value and eroding banks, according to the district, and would cost at least $7 million to restore.

After studying the potential impacts, the district decided to restore the stream corridor to its pre-1957 state by removing the spillway.

"It was sort of a meandering stream before and that's what we will return it to," said Mike Fenelon, the district's director of planning, conservation and development.

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Since about last summer, the plans have been under review by various agencies including U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Lake County Stormwater Management Commission.

Approvals are expected, but no schedule has been set. Once secured, the district would seek bids for the work to remove the spillway and other work related to restoring the flow of the creek.

Smith said the village envisions high end homes, commercial uses and possibly a school south and east of Route 173 and 73 but acknowledged the property is not within the village limits.

The presence of the lake would add 30 percent to 50 percent to home values, he wrote.

He also contended contaminants would flow downstream if the lake is removed. He suggested dredging the lake so that it can be preserved as a public asset.


"It should be an amenity. The forest preserve is owned by the people," he said Friday.

Fenelon said the property referred to in the village plan isn't adjacent to the lake.

"We've been in discussion with all the homeowners for years," he said. "It's just a matter of differing points of view."

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