Paulus Park Barn restoration underway in Lake Zurich
Construction teams are busy restoring Lake Zurich's Paulus Park Barn to its condition before a devastating fire, and village officials say the facility should be ready for use again by early summer.
The 53-year-old building was gutted in the November 2019 blaze. In the months that followed, village officials asked residents what improvements, if any, they would like to see done to the building.
The community's preferred option would have added a large multipurpose room with partitions, as well as more restrooms and an exterior patio.
Those upgrades, however, would have cost an estimated $3 million, and voters in November overwhelmingly voted against increasing the local sales tax by 0.5% to cover the tab. Thus, the current project aims mainly to restore the barn, which is used primarily by the village's park and recreation department for administrative offices.
Kyle Kordell, assistant to the Lake Zurich village manager, said crews are installing a new sprinkler system. They also will slightly redesign the first floor to convert the large lobby into a multipurpose studio for community programs.
"It won't look much different to the community as it will have the same exterior structure and square footage as it has for many years," Kordell said.
The building dates back to about 1968. Ela Historical Society President Ray Syverson said it was constructed as a sales center for the Old Mill Grove subdivision near the intersection of Cuba Road and Route 12, and the barn was moved to Paulus Park in the late 1970s.
The fire broke out on the evening on Nov. 2, 2019, when the building was uninhabited. Deputy Fire Chief David Pilgard said the cause remains undetermined.
Though firefighters were able to control the blaze in about 30 minutes, the building sustained extensive fire, smoke and water damage.
Work crews are making progress on rebuilding the roof structure, improving the facade and completing interior framing, Kordell said. The largest obstacle for barn repairs has been getting enough lumber on site, because of a shortage in supplies caused by the pandemic, he added.
The work is being funded by the village's insurance. But to install the sprinkler system, the village is paying about $350,000 to expand an old, undersized water main from Rand Road to the barn, Kordell said.
Not only will the improvement work allow for the barn's new sprinkler system, but it also is the first leg of a planned replacement of the water main that extends along Whitney Way.
"This water main project is in the Community Investment Plan, so this was a good opportunity to start its replacement," Kordell said.
Lake Zurich Recreation Director Bonnie Caputo said the Park and Recreation Department will continue to operate from temporary trailers on the Paulus Park property until the renovations on the barn are completed.
Village Manager Ray Keller said the village's park and recreation team will continue offering programs such as summer day camp, child care and dance classes.
"Our parks and recs staff continues to do an excellent job of adapting our programs to the constraints of the pandemic environment, innovatively providing the services the community needs and expects, as safely and efficiently as possible," Keller said.