How Cary plans to turn an old gravel pit into a new park
Cary residents soon will have a 102-acre park to walk, bike, and fish as plans for the restoration of the Meyer-Lafarge gravel pit move forward.
The site -- northeast of Klasen Road and Route 31 -- will include paths, picnic areas and tables, park benches, a 60-space parking lot with access from Klasen Road, and a 2.5-mile trail circling a 77-acre lake with trail spurs to access designated fishing areas.
The village board this week unveiled a more elaborate conceptual plan and reviewed a site use ordinance. Those are expected to be approved in the coming months along with the transfer of ownership from Meyer Material to the village.
The McHenry/Algonquin-based sand and gravel supplier has been mining the Cary portion of its property since 2008. Reclamation work is underway to prepare the property to be turned over to the village for improvements.
"Our goal this year would be to have it open where people would be able to access the paths, fishing stations and piers," Village Administrator Jacob Rife said. The lake already has a variety of fish -- bass, crappie and bluegill -- for residents to catch and release, and officials might consider stocking it in future, he added.
The village has a land conservancy fund set up with roughly $1.5 million provided by Meyer for park improvements and annual maintenance.
A future trail connecting to Cary Park District's Hoffman Park to the north will be funded through a $300,000 grant from Meyer and a $1.1 million state grant, both awarded to the park district.
"We have a full concept schematic plan of what it could be like in the future," Rife said. "That's a multiyear build-out. It would cost probably north of $10 million for the build-out."
Future improvements envisioned could include a host of amenities: beach volleyball and bocce ball courts, community gardens, educational trail signage, exercise stations along trails, horseshoe pits, pavilions, gazebos, concession stand, playground equipment, kayak/canoe launch, mountain bike course, paved trails, bicycle park, skateboarding areas and events area for food trucks, farmers markets and festivals.
Ideas for possible high-end features include: adventure park/challenge course (zip line, ropes course), amphitheater, boardwalk, marina and dock, ice skating/roller hockey rinks, inflatable water park, mini golf course, sledding/snowboarding hill, spray park/splash pad and swim beach.
Residents also have weighed in saying they would like to have beach access and swim areas, a kayak/canoe launch, pavilion and playgrounds.
"We are currently exploring some of those ideas," Rife said. "We certainly have to balance our priorities. It's a great plan. We don't have final numbers for everything but some of the items are pretty significant. Going forward the village is going to be very aggressive in seeking grants and also exploring public-private partnerships to help us provide these amenities."