Wauconda Park District buying marina to preserve public access to Bangs Lake
The Wauconda Park District plans to buy a marina and related amenities on the south side of Bangs Lake for $1.7 million in a move intended protect future public access.
Park commissioners last week unanimously approved a contract for Wauconda Boat, 231 E. Liberty St. The four-acre property includes lake bottom, a marina retail location, boat piers and 120 slips, six residential apartments, a house, and a service building with seven bays.
The district is proceeding with inspections and associated work in anticipation of closing the sale in early January.
"There are other lakes in the area where there isn't public access," said park board President Glenn Starkey. "What Bangs Lake is all about is access to residents and visitors. We're excited to be able to secure (that)."
The purchase will be financed over 20 years through the sale of alternative revenue bonds. The district plans to rent boats and slips, sell gas and provide marine service to generate revenue to pay the debt and fund future park district projects and improvements.
"The first priority will be to oversee the change over of the current operations of Wauconda Boat to a management team from the park district," Starkey said.
Terms of the pending sale call for the district to lease four service bays back to the seller.
The pending sale will be the second big initiative by the district in recent years to open the lake frontage for public us. In 2016, the district bought the privately held Phil's Beach property on the southwestern shore. It was reopened in July 2020 after a $3 million renovation.
Wauconda Boat seller Ed Salisbury, president of C.E.T. Commercial Development, approached the park district about a year and a half ago, according to district Executive Director Tim Staton.
Salisbury pitched the district on an opportunity to offer public access versus a sale to a private entity, which could result in a residential development.
"The board felt (Salisbury) had the community's long-term interest in mind," Starkey said.
Staton said master planning for the property is expected to begin after the sale closes. The district also will apply for grants to help with redevelopment efforts over the next few years, he added.
"It will keep public lake access hopefully for generations to come," he said of the purchase.
Salisbury said the marina has been in business for more than 40 years, and C.E.T. has owned it for about 20 years. He said the company probably could have sold it for more to another entity, but the park district acquisition will give largest number of people access to Bangs Lake going forward.
"We're glad that this marina property will be going to a good, long-term home," he said.