New building pitched for Lakewood Forest Preserve
Replacing aging maintenance facilities at the Lakewood Forest Preserve in Wauconda with a new $2.5 million energy-efficient building is being pitched as having big-picture implications.
The investment would save operating costs, provide a clearer palette for master planning at Lakewood, and exemplify the Lake County Forest Preserve District's long-range goal of "right-sizing" its facilities, said Ty Kovach, the district's executive director.
Grounds maintenance at Lakewood works out of two buildings totaling 10,375 square feet. That would be reduced to one new, 4,200-square-foot building.
"We have more building than we need, and the building we have is not efficient," Kovach said Monday during a presentation to a joint meeting of the forest board's three main committees. "This is where we really can have an impact," he added.
The project is the largest of several Kovach suggested be funded or added to the district's 10-year capital improvement plan, which is adjusted annually. All three committees were asked to review and comment on the updated capital plan, which must be approved by the full board before the district's overall budget is considered.
Kovach said replacing the Lakewood grounds maintenance facilities with a new building fits with the districtwide goal of sizing facilities appropriately for their use to reduce long-term operating costs.
"Right now, we're operating in a cobbled-together facility, parts of which are 70 years old," according to Kovach.
The eight grounds maintenance facilities scattered throughout Lake County are responsible for 30,844 acres at 65 sites, including 6 million square feet of parking lots and roads and nearly 204 miles of trails.
He cited several examples where efficiency has been increased by consolidating facilities. That includes spending $1.6 million to relocate the district's museum to Libertyville rather than investing $12 million to upgrade the Lakewood facilities, Kovach said.
Estimates show it would cost $3 million to bring the current Lakewood maintenance facilities up to building code, according to Kovach. He said the new maintenance building likely would be a strong candidate for funding assistance through the Illinois Clean Energy Net Zero Energy Building Program.
That new maintenance facility would be built elsewhere on the property to free space as a master plan proceeds for Lakewood, a former dairy farm and the district's largest forest preserve. Three buildings at Lakewood already have been demolished.
A barn that had been part of the original 1930s Lakewood Farms dairy will remain in a use to be determined.
On Feb. 5, the district's finance committee will consider the capital plan list, including any comments received, and make a recommendation to the full board.