Mundelein buying land on Lake Street, will force out tenants to create a park
Mundelein officials plan to knock down four homes and a commercial building on South Lake Street and create a new park that provides additional public access to Diamond Lake.
The homes and commercial spaces are occupied, however -- so village leaders aim to help the tenants find somewhere else in town to live or operate their businesses, Village Administrator John Lobaito said.
"(We) will work with the current occupants in their transition to a new location," Lobaito said.
Exact plans haven't been worked out.
The village board voted Monday to purchase the properties, which run from 602 S. Lake St. to 614 S. Lake St., for $775,000. Funding will come from village savings.
The parcels, all of which are owned by the same landlord, are on the west side of Lake Street near Allanson Road. They occupy about 200 feet of the Diamond Lake's roughly three-mile shoreline.
Aside from a few Mundelein Park District sites -- the most prominent of which is Diamond Lake Beach -- most of the land around the 153-acre lake is privately owned. The east and north shores are within Mundelein, and the rest is unincorporated Lake County.
Opening more of the lakefront to the public is a goal in Mundelein's long-term comprehensive plan.
"The lake is a natural resource and an asset to the community that should be enjoyed by all," Lobaito said.
Not only will the project result in more public space on the lakeshore, it will create a new view of the lake for the thousands of motorists who drive daily on Lake Street.
"It will better the whole vibe of the area and better the image of our town to all those drivers," Mayor Steve Lentz said.
The homes consist of a traditional single-family house and three smaller cottages, one of which is divided into two units, Lobaito said.
"My guess is the cottages are left over from the days Diamond Lake was a big recreation area," he said.
A timeline for the project hasn't yet been created, nor has a deadline for removing the tenants from the buildings.
"We have not spoken with the tenants and (are) sure it will come as a surprise," Lobaito said.
When asked what will happen if any of the tenants don't want to move or can't move, Lobaito said officials will address situations if they arise.
During Monday's discussion, Trustee Ray Semple said he initially opposed the project but changed his mind after repeatedly driving past the site.
"It is a very high visibility piece of property, and I think opening it up for a view will be terrific," Semple said.
If the site is going to become an active park as opposed to passive green space, Semple suggested village officials work with the park district on maintenance and management.
Trustee Robin Meier opposed the plan, particularly that the documents governing the purchase don't specify that the land will be dedicated as public open space and not developed down the road.
"If we're saying that, then it should be in writing," Meier said.
Trustee Dawn Abernathy voted against the plan, too.
"If this is something that's important enough, the park district should be purchasing this property, not the village," she said. "That's why the taxpayers (fund) a park district."