A large number of residents voiced opposition to using portions of Lake Ellyn Park to create more off-street parking during a meeting Monday night to discuss preliminary sketches for the Lake Ellyn Park Master Plan.
The meeting held at the park’s boathouse had a strong turnout from residents concerned about the park’s future. More than 50 people attended the meeting.
Parking was just one of the areas touched on during the two-hour meeting, but it raised the most concerns and garnered the most feedback.
The Glen Ellyn Park District hired the firm of Conservation Design Forum and Farr Associates to help it address a number of issues including landscaping, hydrology of the lake, parking and access, recreational use and the boathouse.
The goals and priorities for the Lake Ellyn Master Plan include the park experience, retaining the beauty and authenticity for the park and making considerations for sustainability and the park’s ecology.
After the first meeting held in late August, the consultants gathered feedback and aggregated the comments to determine what residents’ main concerns were, said David Yocca, director of Landscape Architecture and Planning for Conservation Design Forum.
Parking and access to the park was one of the areas discussed Monday night. A sketch showed the use of angled parking along Lenox Road. Residents were concerned about the use, which would mean the loss of roughly 25 feet of greenspace.
Yocca explained that the parking was not the park district’s issue. But, in fact, the Village of Glen Ellyn is exploring plans to rebuild Lenox Road and is considering options to widen the road, to make two-way traffic easier and to improve parking in the area.
Residents were concerned that the greenspace might be lost to make way for additional parking, which they did not feel was necessary. Residents also said driving up and down the road has not been an issue so far and there was no need for change.
“I do not want to see it widened,” Christa Mannion said after the meeting. She’s lived on Lenox Road 20 years. “We need to preserve every inch of greenspace we have. I don’t want to see any of it touched.”
Many residents voiced the same concerns during the meeting. A few adding that to create 50 or 60 additional spaces for students unwilling to take the bus was not worth losing a possible 25-feet of greenspace long the road and, in addition, risk the health of the trees.
The consultants said they would share the concerns residents have with the village, adding that parts of the park were in the public right-of-way and so it would be up to the village to determine how it might use that land. But, Yocca said, the village wanted to make changes based on what residents wanted.
Other areas of the park were discussed during the meeting. Yocca said one thing that was clear from the responses were that whether residents lived near the park or not, they had a strong connection to Lake Ellyn Park and felt it was an important part of the community.
Based on feedback from the first meeting, Yocca said there was a mixed response to possible changes at the boathouse and pavilion. The main response was that residents did not want the boathouse expanded, but possibly would be open to having some additional uses located separately.
Consultant Jonathan Boyer of Farr Associates offered ideas for the boathouse, including removing a west addition, which was added for additional space and is an area where trash is currently stored. Boyer said the addition “covers up a beautiful limestone fireplace.” Removing that would allow views of the fireplace.
Boyer offered suggested renovation ideas for the boathouse that would include raising the ceiling of the boathouse and bringing it back to its original design from the 1930s with exposed beams. The windows would also be replaced with more efficient double-pane windows.
He also suggested reconfiguring the dock to make it easier for skaters to get onto the lake in the winter. He said reconfiguration would be done in a way that would use the current structure, would keep it to scale and reduce size of the dock.
He also suggested creating a temporary warming area outside of the east side of the building, so that the interior of the boathouse could be used by people who didn’t want to skate and or would allow the space to be rented out during the winter when skating was happening.
An idea to have additional restrooms placed outdoors near some of the park equipment was also shared. A berm would be created with restrooms underneath. The berm would allow for views of the lake, while shielding the restroom area.
Landscape and water improvements
A number of other ideas were shared with the residents including allowing areas of woodland restoration. “Discreet” areas of the park would be left untouched, allowing the growth of the next generation of oak timbers and other historic plantings to take root.
Erosion around the shoreline would also be addressed with the use of ornamental landscapes.
A lot of water is draining into the lake from streets and homes nearby, and that means some pesticides and fertilizers from lawns are washing into the water.
“From a water quality perspective we are looking at ways to utilize runoff to improve quality of the lake,” said Tom Price, director of water resource engineering for Conservation Design Firm.
One option is to include floating islands, which are artificial in terms of how they are made, but are wetlands that could provide filtration and integrate them in with the trail system.
The floating islands, called restorers, are placed in the landscape and hard to distinguish from natural islands, he said. The root zone is floating into the water and that is where the nutrients are taken up, a lot of beneficial bacteria and microscopic plants can attach and take up nutrients and reduce growth of algae. The islands could also be moved out of the way for the winter so they would not be in the way of ice skaters.
Another meeting will be held in December, where more refined plans and concepts, along with phasing options will be shared.
Learn more about the Lake Ellyn Park Master Plan and view the presentations.