Lake Zurich to create arboretum out of a long-forgotten park
Kuechmann Park, long one of the least-utilized of the 36 parks run by the village of Lake Zurich, will be rebranded next week as Kuechmann Arboretum in an attempt to focus on the park's old trees and attract visitors to walking paths.
The park, which is accessible off North Old Rand Road, is about eight acres and has no ballfield or playground equipment. Lake Zurich assistant village manager Kyle Kordell said a 2011 survey found that only about 3 percent of residents had even been to the park.
"It really didn't have much going for it," Kordell said.
But it does have plenty of impressive trees -- mostly oaks, along with maples and boxelders. Fifty-four of them are over 100 years old and 36 are more than 150 years old. The oldest tree in the park is about 275 years old.
The park also has a dedicated community of volunteers behind it. The village considered selling the property, first in 2014 to private developers and then in 2015 to Ela Township.
Both times residents urged the village to keep the park and invest in it.
Kordell said Ancient Oaks Foundation volunteers have spent more than 375 hours over the past few years clearing invasive species from the park.
Another important group has been the Lake Zurich Garden Club.
"We are looking forward to working with them to bring Kuechmann Arboretum to the next level," Kordell said.
The village will host a rededication ceremony at 9 a.m. Wednesday, the first day of spring, to kick off the conversion.
Besides changing the name, Kordell said the village will install an ADA-accessible walking path that will be dotted with informational signs and kiosks. Several stops along the path will feature small play structures for children to enjoy, such as a fake stump they can crawl through.
The village also will work with volunteers to remove more invasive species.
The village is partnering with local Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops to install butterfly houses, bird houses and bat houses.
Kordell said the idea is that the butterflies, birds and bats will help pollinate the plants in the arboretum.
The land was purchased for $572,500 from John and Martha Metropulos in December 1989.
In 1991, the park was named for Alton M. Kuechmann, who was Lake Zurich's mayor from 1953 to 1957 and founder of its plan commission.
In 2016, the village spent $19,000 demolishing a two-story building that had been vacant since 2011 and at one time was a home, a day-care facility and an office for the village's parks and recreation developer.
Kordell said the new work should be done by 2020.