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Former Barat College Houses City's Biggest Building, But Sits On Bank-Owned Property to be Developed

Second Ward residents gain updates, ask questions of pressing issues in their area of city.

Within the next two weeks, a For Sale sign will go up in front of the former Barat College property in Lake Forest with contact information for interested developers.

Still standing and in view behind the wire fence that now borders the front entrance is the college’s original centerpiece building. According to Cathy Czerniak, director of community development for Lake Forest, the building is the biggest in the city with 180,00 square feet of space, but is over 100 years old.

“What do you do with this building?” she asked in terms of the land’s marketability for residential development.

The Barat College property, which sits at the southeast entrance to the city, fell into the hands of Harris Bank within the last year after an attempt to develop the land failed during the country’s economic downturn.

Second Ward residents had a chance Monday night to gain an update on Barat and a host of topics from city administrators, Mayor James Cowhey and Second Ward aldermen Stuart Widman and David Moore at Lake Forest City Hall.

Many of the same topics addressed at the on March 10 were covered again for those in attendance at the Second Ward Meeting.

But there were also some new ones specific to the ward.

East Side Train Station

The city has procured $1.2 million after being awarded a federal grant of $835,000 last fall for the city's rehabilitation of both Metra stations.

The actual cost to completely revitalize theis approximately $3 million, so priorities have been placed on the money at hand to include replacing the roof, gutters, doors, floors, expanding restroom facilities to accommodate handicap accessibility, restoring plaster, and installing life-safety hardware.

Further funding and grant opportunities are continuing to be explored.

Telecommunication Towers

Czerniak said she occasionally will receive a call from a phone carrier requesting a cell phone tower to be built to cover a gap in service in Lake Forest.

“The city is not initiating any contact,” Czerniak said. ‘There is no proposal for a new tower.”

So far, no carriers have gone beyond a phone call, but Czerniak stressed to Second Ward residents that if they did, a detailed review process is in place.

“We would have an individual consultant come in and perform a review,” she said. “Is there really a gap in coverage? What alternatives are there? What if a tower is not needed?”

The last question has come up as more media reports have focused on emerging technology that will eliminate the need for the big cell towers. They will be replaced by much smaller units that can sit on top of utility poles, lamp posts or buildings.

South Beach Access Road

Starting with the March 21 City Council meeting, the city will begin to look at options for the construction of a new access road when entering the south end of Forest Park Beach.

The current road has erosion issues and has become unsafe, according to Ramesh Kanapareddy, assistant city engineer. The option shown to residents would eliminate the current curve in the road and create a straight start to it instead. Construction would start next fall after the boating season.

Residents were encouraged to attend the March 21 meeting to see the options under consideration.

Tree Trimming at Forest Park Beach

The tree trimming currently underway at Forest Park is part of a four-year plan to manage and minimize erosion, according to Mary Van Arsdale, director of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Department.

There was concern voiced that the trimming was being done without first waiting for the Forest Park Project Committee to finish its work. However, Mark Goodman, president of the Forest Park Project Committee, said their work has nothing to do with the city’s current tree trimming.

Van Arsdale noted many of the trees cut down were Ash. Ash trees across Lake County have fallen victim to Emerald Ash Borer disease.

Goodman noted the committee hopes to conduct a public input meeting within the next six months to present their findings on what direction to one of the oldest parks in Illinois.

The committee’s website, forestparkproject.com, is slated to go live on April 15.

First Ward Next

for the remainder of the city’s wards are; First Ward on April 7 at , and Third Ward on April 25 at the Municipal Services Building.

For more information, visit www.cityoflakeforest.com.

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