Crystal Lake, Lakewood to see new opportunities for art, entertainment, leaders say

Friday marked the annual State of the Community luncheon for Crystal Lake, Lakewood

Crystal Lake Mayor Haig Haleblian speaks at the joint Crystal Lake-Lakewood State of the Community luncheon on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

New public spaces around Crystal Lake’s downtown and Metra station are among what’s in store for 2023, Mayor Haig Haleblian said.

During this year’s State of the Community luncheon for Crystal Lake and Lakewood on Friday, Haleblian said the city is “in a great position” for business opportunities and growth, announcing that he expects the city to close on the purchase of the downtown Metra station and surrounding parking and park space within the next several months.

Crystal Lake city officials made an effort to purchase the property after learning that developers in Utah sought to buy a number of suburban commuter stations.

“We felt it would not be in Crystal Lake’s best interest to let that happen, so we decided to go ahead and buy it,” Haleblian said. “In due time, we’ll be able to develop this and make it a community space.”

The City Council approved the intergovernmental agreement, allowing Metra to facilitate the city’s purchase of the property from Union Pacific for $1,072,500 in November 2021.

The area around the station is broadly envisioned as an opportunity for the city to bring more art and entertainment downtown, Haleblian said.

Some possibilities were proposed to the City Council at the end of last year for the downtown area, including a bandshell and a crystalline art sculpture showcasing Crystal Lake’s origins as a site for ice harvesting.

Other projects Haleblian was looking forward to seeing in the near future include more natural plantings and aesthetic enhancements, particularly along Route 14.

“Good things are happening,” Haleblian said.

The State of the Community luncheon, which took place at the Holiday Inn in Crystal Lake off Route 31, included a speech from Haleblian as well as Lakewood Village President David Stavropoulos.

Stavropoulos touted the “wonderful things happening in Lakewood,” including four new businesses opening within the village this year in the Lakewood Commons shopping center, and added that he hopes for more business – and residents – in the future.

The village still hopes to begin construction on a new clubhouse at the RedTail Golf Club this year, Stavropoulos said.

Lakewood Village President Dave Stavropoulos speaks at the joint Crystal Lake-Lakewood State of the Community on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

“Lakewood is known as a great place to live and play,” Stavropoulos said. “We are laying groundwork for Lakewood becoming a great place to work. We have plenty of room to grow.”

After the two speeches, a video presentation highlighted recent residential growth and new businesses in Crystal Lake, including the Mercyhealth hospital along Route 31, a new Rookies restaurant franchise coming to downtown and the 99-unit apartment complex at 95 Crystal Lake Ave.

The video also included graphics demonstrating what Congress Parkway in Crystal Lake would look like before and after the construction of two planned roundabouts at the intersections of Federal Drive and Exchange Drive.

Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce President Randy Leggee speaks at the joint Crystal Lake-Lakewood State of the Community luncheon on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023.

Before introducing Haleblian, Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce Randy Leggee introduced him by slowly spelling out his name, a joking nod to the fact that the mayor is now running as a write-in candidate in the upcoming April election after an error with his nominating papers led him to withdraw them.

“I’ve got removable tattoos for kids [with my name on it],” Haleblian joked.