Athletic fields could be part of future for Lake Zurich's Kuechmann Park
Lacrosse nets and baseballs might join birds and wildlife in what could be an extensive change in the future of Lake Zurich's Kuechmann Park.
Ela Township is negotiating to purchase the village government-owned, 8-acre site off Old Rand Road and evenly divide the land for athletic fields and a nature area, township Supervisor Lucy Prouty said Tuesday. She said the township has set aside money for park purchases.
"We're short on lacrosse (fields) and even baseball," Prouty said. "We're short on everything."
The latest proposal for the woodsy, tranquil property comes nearly a year after it was suggested as suitable for single-family home development until elected officials decided during a meeting last June not to pursue a recommendation to sell the land.
Kuechmann supporters who opposed the sale packed village hall that night.
The possible sale of Kuechmann to Ela Township and conversion to a more active use is a sore subject for Mary Kozub, a member of Lake Zurich's advisory tree commission. Kozub is part of a group willing to volunteer to improve and preserve the property if the village does not sell it.
Kozub brought her concerns to Monday night's village board meeting and spoke during public comment time. She contended that adding athletic fields could trigger too much stormwater runoff and also cause the loss of the birds, wildlife and other nature found at Kuechmann.
"When I was walking the property lines (Sunday), there were a number of things that I saw," said Kozub, a longtime environmental and conservation educator. "It took me a whole hour and 15 minutes. I saw wildflowers blooming, great horned owls, Cooper's hawks, warblers, garter snakes, deer and a little bird called a veery, which is kind of like a specialized robin. They only like woodlands. ... We may not have a veery in the village again."
Lake Zurich Village Manager Jason Slowinski said negotiations regarding Kuechmann are continuing with the township. He said there is no specific timetable to finalize a deal.
"It could be sometime later this year," he said after Monday's village board session. "It depends on when we wrap up negotiations and are able to get something together for both governing bodies to look at."
Lake Zurich's park and recreation advisory board last year had recommended selling Kuechmann. Lack of use, deteriorating playground equipment and other problems were cited by the advisory panel.
Village research shows the Old Rand Road land was purchased for $572,500 from John and Martha Metropulos in December 1989. The park is named for Alton M. Kuechmann, who was Lake Zurich's mayor from 1953 to 1957 and founder of the plan commission.
Prouty said buildings on the site would have to be removed if the township buys the park.