Ela Townwship planning fields with youth sports in mind
Ela Twp. buys 10 acres to serve area's young athletes
Ela Township Supervisor Lucy Prouty says a need for more athletic fields to help Lake Zurich-area youth sports drove the purchase of 10 acres for $490,000 just outside the village in unincorporated Lake County.
Township board trustees are expected to address plans for the new, yet-to-be-named facility at a meeting July 14. Prouty said it's hoped the fields, which won't have lights, can be completed by September.
Prouty said there is a particular need to serve the growing interest in youth lacrosse on fields more conducive to the sport. She said lacrosse caused enough additional wear and tear on the Lake Zurich Flames Youth Football field at Knox Park, adjacent to township headquarters on Route 22 in Lake Zurich, that it now must be played elsewhere on the campus.
"Hopefully, I do not want to put a football field up at the new park," Prouty said. "I want it to be able to be soccer, lacrosse, baseball -- for everybody. Even Frisbee."
Township officials last week announced $490,000 in available cash was used to buy the property at 21096 N. Deerpath Road, which has eight usable acres in a tranquil, residential setting not far from Lake Zurich Unit District 95's Isaac Fox Elementary School and Middle School South.
Jim Vasalopulos, director of the Lake Zurich Lacrosse Club, is among the youth sports leaders supporting the plan to build more athletic fields. Ela Township does not charge the organizations to use the fields.
"This couldn't come at a better time," Vasalopulos said. "Having access to great field space is so important to the growth of community sports."
Ela Township's quest to buy land for more sports and recreation use started in early 2015, when negotiations began with Lake Zurich for the village-owned, eight-acre Kuechmann Park off Old Rand Road. The township became interested in the site after the Lake Zurich village board heard from residents concerned about losing a nature preserve in June 2014 and postponed a vote endorsing a sale of Kuechmann Park.
Prouty said Kuechmann Park turned out to be a poor idea for the township.
"We did not do our homework on that," she said. "It would have cost us $2 million to even make it playable. And we had the tree-huggers that were not happy with us."
Ela Township will have four parks in its portfolio when the new facility opens. It already operates Ela, Knigge and Knox parks.
Prouty said the township bought the Deerpath Road site, which includes an unusable house and other structures, from the trust of Earl Young, who died in 2007. Young, who was 83 when he died, was a third-generation Lake Zurich resident whose family owned and operated the former Maple Leaf Hotel in the village's downtown.
An estimated cost to improve the site is not yet available. Prouty said building demolition and septic system removal will be part of the work to convert the site into athletic fields.
Lake Zurich-based Ela Soccer Club officials are looking forward to opportunities at the new park. Ela Soccer Club has matches at 16 parks.
"We have 1,300 kids in our program and we're continuing to grow," Ela Soccer Club board President Doug Anderson said. "We definitely need additional field space."