Building demolition brightens future of Lake Zurich park

 
 
Posted4/2/2016 7:30 AM
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  • Lake Zurich's Kuechmann Park no longer has a vacant building dating to the 1800s.

      Lake Zurich's Kuechmann Park no longer has a vacant building dating to the 1800s. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Demolition crews this week removed a two-story building dating to the late 1800s at Kuechmann Park. Some cleanup tasks were performed at the park Friday.

      Demolition crews this week removed a two-story building dating to the late 1800s at Kuechmann Park. Some cleanup tasks were performed at the park Friday. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

  • Mary Kozub, a member of Lake Zurich's tree commission and Ancient Oaks Foundation, discusses plans for Kuechmann Park. The park no longer is for sale by the village.

      Mary Kozub, a member of Lake Zurich's tree commission and Ancient Oaks Foundation, discusses plans for Kuechmann Park. The park no longer is for sale by the village. Bob Susnjara | Staff Photographer

The makeover of Lake Zurich's Kuechmann Park continued this week with the removal of a vacant building dating to the 1800s.

Lake Zurich public works Manager Michael Brown said he's impressed with how woodsy and tranquil the 8-acre site off Old Rand Road looks after the $19,000 building demolition, which began Monday and ended with the crews doing some cleanup Friday.

"It looks like a completely different property," Brown said. "The view from the street, you can see the oaks back there."

Brown said the two-story building, which had been vacant since about 2011, was demolished because of structural concerns. Believed to have dated to the late 1800s, the structure's previous uses included a home, a day-care facility and an office for the village's parks and recreation director, he said.

It's the latest move to improve Kuechmann Park, which had a shaky future in early 2014, when Lake Zurich's park and recreation advisory board had recommended selling it. Lack of use, deteriorating playground equipment and other problems were cited by the advisory panel.

After hearing from concerned residents in June 2014, Lake Zurich village board members agreed to postpone a vote to sell the site for a housing development. Later, Ela Township considered purchasing the property for lacrosse and baseball fields, but Lake Zurich Management Analyst Kyle Kordell said the township no longer is interested.

"There are definitely no plans to sell the park," Kordell said.

Once the building demolition site is stabilized and seeded, wildflowers and prairie plantings should be installed with help from volunteers with Lake Zurich's Ancient Oaks Foundation, Brown said.

Mary Kozub, an Ancient Oaks member who serves on the village's advisory tree commission, was among the residents who packed village hall nearly two years ago to try to block the park's sale. While it was sad to see the 1800s-era house go, the park's future now looks bright, Kozub said.

The longtime environmental and conservation educator said some oak trees at the park are about 200 years old and deserve protection. She said volunteers plan to continue clearing invasive buckthorn and honeysuckle as part of a restoration process.

"We're hoping to put some nature programming in here, education for the whole family," Kozub said. "Education for adults, too. But also being able to raise awareness of the significance of the ecosystem and also the significance nature plays in our lives every day."

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 mayor from 1953 to 1957 and founder of the plan commission.

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