Renovation Plans In The Works For Largest Forest Preserve In Lake County

Bernie Tafoya
September 09, 2019 - 1:23 pm
Lakewood Forest Preserve in Lake County

Kyle Chrisman, Skeye Aerial Photography

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CHICAGO (WBBM NWSRADIO) -- Plans are in the works to renovate the largest forest preserve in north suburban Lake County and the public will get a chance to weigh-in in two weeks.

The 2,835-acre Lakewood Forest Preserve is old and worn out and “needs a new face on it," said Randy Seebach, the Lake County Forest Preserve District director of planning and land preservation.

For the past year, planners have been working on two concepts for the forest preserve and on Sept. 23 between 5-7 p.m. at the Fremont Township Center, the public will be able to hear about the proposals and give its own comments and ideas. 

Seebach said anyone who cannot make it to the open house will be able to comment online for three weeks afterwards.

Seebach said that, “Over time, things became less and less efficient and things aged…and right now some of those former farm buildings that were there when we purchased the property are nearing 70-years old.”

He said most of the farm buildings will be torn down, but that as much of the materials as possible will be re-purposed. Seebach said the dairy barn and silo will remain.

The forest preserve official said that as years went by, additions were made to Lakewood, but with no clear plan in place. For instance, he said, “trails were put in without any overall planning so sometimes trails were put very close to each other and redundant. Trails, in many cases, were put in areas that were steep and so that would cause erosion.”

Lakewood Forest Preserve in Lake County
Kyle Chrisman, Skeye Aerial Photography

Seebach said the two concept plans include a new 1.6 mile asphalt trail that will be accessible to three or four new picnic shelters. One of those shelters would likely be for three-season use.

Seebach said the idea behind the plans was to make things more compact, more functional and easier to maintain.

The $4.2 million renovation project will not get underway until 2021 and the entire forest preserve will likely be closed during the renovation work. Seebach expects to see the preserve reopened in 2022.