Mundelein trustees reject plan to create new park along Diamond Lake
A controversial plan to convert land on the northeast shore of Diamond Lake in Mundelein into a municipal park has been rejected by the village board.
The plan targeted about 3 acres of vacant, village-owned property on the west side of Route 45 at Allanson Road. Improved landscaping, an erosion-prevention effort, paths, benches and public art were proposed, at a potential cost of nearly $1.7 million, according to village documents.
But on Monday night, five of the board's six trustees -- Dawn Abernathy, Robin Meier, Kara Lambert, Erich Schwenk and Kerston Russell -- formally refused to accept the development plan, which had been drafted by consultants at a $17,500 cost to taxpayers.
Lambert called the plan "a monstrosity."
Ray Semple was the only trustee who voted to accept the plan, which has been championed by Mayor Steve Lentz.
Accepting the proposal would not have committed the village to implementing the suggested improvements it contained, Village Administrator John Lobaito said.
"It just means that the work is finished," he said. "This is simply a concept."
Mundelein bought the property in 2018 with the goal of creating a lakeside public park. Commercial and residential buildings that stood there at the time were razed to clear the land for a park.
The village board hired Kimley-Horn and Associates, an engineering and design firm, in January 2019 to craft the development plan. But opposition to the plan grew after the makeup of the board changed following the April 2019 municipal election.
On Monday, Schwenk said he favors stabilizing the shoreline of the property and making other landscaping improvements -- but nothing more.
"We've invested a lot of money into this open land and the water will eat (it) away if we don't protect that investment," he said.
Abernathy suggested asking village employees to create a new proposal, before the board's next meeting on Feb. 10, that only contains the environmental elements. Other trustees supported that request.
"We're OK with the bits and pieces of it that need to be done, that are a necessity for us to be good neighbors," Lambert said.
Lentz argued that those elements were in the plan before the board Monday night -- but trustees demanded a fresh document.
The board's rejection of the plan and discussion about what might come next followed comments from three people who live near the lake. Two expressed concern about people who don't live in their neighborhood coming to the area because of a path that was part of the park plans, while another said the removal of the buildings on the site have led to him hearing more noise from cars on Route 45 and seeing more light at night from businesses there.