'Doughnut hole' site in Green Oaks to become a memorial garden
A long-vacant property at busy Route 137 and O'Plaine Road across from Green Oaks village hall will be transformed to honor veterans and residents past and present.
The 2-acre Green Oaks Memorial Garden is the culmination of a village vision that began in earnest three years ago. Work is expected to begin soon.
The privately owned property east of Ascension Catholic Cemetery and Mausoleum in unincorporated Lake County was surrounded as the village grew since its founding in 1960.
"This was always a doughnut hole in the village," said Mayor Bernard Wysocki.
A proposed crematorium was denied by Lake County, and the property remained vacant until the owner died and his heirs agreed to sell. Green Oaks bought and annexed the property in 2020 to preserve it as open space.
"Ever since that time we hoped we could bring it into the village and beautify that piece," he added. "We've been brainstorming all these years to put a memorial garden across the street."
A ceremonial groundbreaking Tuesday for the $400,000 project was dashed by rain, but officials posed for pictures with shovels and toasted the project in the meeting room at village hall.
"We wanted to honor our hometown veterans, people of the past and the people who built this village up," Wysocki said.
A circular plaza surrounding a Japanese lilac tree representing love and purity will be a main feature at the corner.
Besides about 30 trees and 50 shrubs, the garden will contain thousands of perennial and annual plants for a mix of color and continuing blooms through the seasons.
The installation of masonry, paths and other hardscape features is scheduled to start in coming weeks and is expected to be complete this fall. Planting will begin in spring.
The spot will be accessible by bicyclists and residents and will include a bike repair station.
"Since COVID, more and more people are walking and riding their bikes," Wysocki said. "This is an excellent place to take a break."
The garden was designed to accommodate the Lake County Division of Transportation's planned Patriot Path.
The $30 million, 5.5-mile multiuse path along Route 137 is divided into four segments and will connect the Des Plaines River Trail near Libertyville to the Roberty McClory bike path and Naval Station Great Lakes in North Chicago.
According to LCDOT, the Patriot Path will provide new commuting options and connect parks, forest preserves, schools, businesses, employment centers and transit stops.
Segment 1 is from the Des Plaines River Trail to Brookhaven Drive. Segment 4 is from just east of Route 41 to the Robert McClory Bike Path in North Chicago. Construction of one or both of those segments is programmed for 2025, depending on project readiness and available funds.