Mundelein-area couple want road widened -- and they'll pay for it
A Mundelein-area couple aren't happy with the narrowness of the street that leads to their home -- and they've offered to pay to have it widened.
The project would include moving the 12-foot-wide road -- a short stretch of pavement in the unincorporated West Shore Park neighborhood called Highland Terrace -- slightly south to avoid a large, old oak tree.
Cindy Winemaster and her husband, Gary, are behind the proposal. She said widening Highland Terrace will be safer for drivers and allow fire trucks and other large vehicles get through to Forest Lane, the street where they live.
"Moving trucks can't go down there, (or) people with boats," Cindy Winemaster said.
The Winemasters estimate the project's price at less than $100,000. They're willing to absorb the cost rather than asking Fremont Township -- which maintains Highland Terrace -- to pay for it.
That offer surprised Township Supervisor Diana O'Kelly.
"We don't often get the public paying for roads," O'Kelly said.
But the plan has critics. West Shore Park homeowners association board member Tabatha Curis likes the area's narrow roads and doesn't think they should change.
"That's the uniqueness of our neighborhood, and we want to keep that intact," Curtis said.
A public hearing is planned for next week.
An old neighborhood
Highland Terrace is near the northwest corner of Diamond Lake, just outside Mundelein. It stretches about 50 yards and is the link between Forest Lane and the more heavily traveled Prairie Avenue. The Winemasters' house on Forest is at the end of Highland Terrace.
West Shore Park dates back to the 1920s or '30s, Fremont Township Highway Commissioner Bill Grinnell said. The original houses were summer getaways for Chicago residents, and the roads were privately maintained for decades, he said.
Partially lined with trees and bushes, Highland Terrace looks more like a driveway than a modern street because it's so narrow.
Problems arise, Winemaster said, when a car at one end of Highland encounters a car approaching from the other end. The road isn't wide enough for them to pass each other, so one needs to back up, she said.
"It's dangerous," Winemaster said.
"There definitely (are) safety concerns," he said.
The Winemasters moved to Forest Lane about four years ago. Cindy is a stay-at-home mom, while Gary is the CEO of Power Solutions International, a manufacturer of industrial engines.
In addition to the house where they and their 11-year-old son live, they own six more properties in the neighborhood. One house is being renovated for the couple's eldest son. Gary Winemaster's parents live in another -- the only house that actually is on Highland Terrace. The Winemasters have knocked down the other four homes they purchased in the neighborhood.
If Highland Terrace is widened and relocated, it will be closer to the house planned for the Winemasters' son. It won't encroach on land owned by anyone other than the Winemasters.
Curtis has several concerns, however. One is financial -- the potential impact on the West Shore water system, especially a water main that would have to be moved.
If those pipes are damaged, "I'm not sure what the compensation would be," said Curtis, whose husband, Kent, has owned their house on Forest Lane for 30 years. "I feel that it's going to cost West Shore Park money."
As for the narrowness of Highland Terrace, Curtis said she likes it that way.
"It doesn't allow people to travel and speed through," she said. "You have to pay attention."
Cindy Winemaster was baffled by her neighbor's resistance.
"The road doesn't go onto anybody's property," she said. "I just don't get it."
Lake County Board member Chuck Bartels represents the Mundelein area and is familiar with the controversy. Lake County once was filled with cozy, summer-cottage communities like West Shore Park, and Bartels said he understands why a longtime resident might get upset about proposed changes.
But change has come to those neighborhoods through the years, he said. It's happened elsewhere on Diamond Lake, on Mundelein's Sylvan Lake and throughout the Chain O' Lakes that runs along Lake County's western border.
"I think it's a natural evolution," Bartels said.
Although Highland Terrace is maintained by Fremont Township, Grinnell isn't sure what agency needs to consider the proposal. He's conferring with Lake County officials to verify the bureaucratic procedure for permits and related matters.
While officials determine how to proceed, Grinnell will hold a public hearing about the proposal Tuesday. It's set for 7 p.m. at the Countryside Fire Protection District station, 801 S. Midlothian Road, Mundelein.
If the Winemasters' plan moves forward, the couple would hire contractors to handle the work -- just like a corporate developer would, Grinnell said.
Afterward, the road would return to township control for maintenance, he said.
Grinnell said he wouldn't expect a widened Highland Terrace to affect property values or taxes in the neighborhood. It's just a short street, he said, not an entire neighborhood.
"I don't really think it's going to make much difference," he said.