Possible public access at Honey Lake divides North Barrington mayoral candidates

North Barrington presidential challenger Jay Murphy is siding with residents who would like a boardwalk or other public features at the local Honey Lake.

But incumbent Eleanor Sweet McDonnell insists the lake is privately owned. Building a public path or other features there might be illegal, she said.

The candidates discussed Honey Lake and other village matters during a joint online interview with the Daily Herald ahead of the April 4 election.

Honey Lake is north of Signal Hill Road and east of Route 59 and the Biltmore Country Club. It occupies about 66 surface acres and has more than two miles of shoreline, according to a Lake County Health Department ecological report.

The country club owns the west side of the lake and has a beach club there. Homeowners living along the remainder of the shoreline own the rest, North Barrington officials said.

It's used for swimming, fishing and nonmotorized boating.

Murphy, a program manager for the U.S. Transportation Department who lives near the lake, brought up the concept of public improvements while fielding a question about the village's finances.

He said residents have told him they'd like a boardwalk around the lake "or maybe a pier to walk out on," among other pedestrian-friendly amenities.

Later in the interview, Murphy added that people want to fish on Honey Lake or keep boats there.

Murphy, who unsuccessfully ran for trustee in 2019, suggested McDonnell represents people who don't want change or for the village to grow, a comment that elicited a chuckle and a head-shake from the incumbent.

McDonnell, who also lives near the lake, responded by shooting down the idea of creating public access there with grants or other funds.

"I've looked into it," said McDonnell, who was elected in 2019 and also is the president and CEO of a business consulting company. "I'm not even sure it's legal."

Still, McDonnell noted that creating public access at the lake is "an interesting idea."

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Honey Lake is east of the Biltmore Country Club in North Barrington. Courtesy of North Barrington
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