Crystal Lake Depot Park proposals include a bandshell and theme tied to city heritage

Developers will use City Council and resident feedback for finalized design

One of the proposed bandshell designs for Depot Park include a structure made out of terra cotta bricks.

Crystal Lake’s Depot Park is getting closer to a makeover, as developers have presented three designs to City Council and the public this week.

Three themes were proposed by the developers: ice harvesting, terra cotta and a pergola theme. All the designs include a bandshell, seating and water features in various forms.

Developers hosted a public open house on Oct. 23 where residents were able to give feedback on the three proposed designs. The majority of residents enjoyed the warmth of terra cotta materials and increased permanent seating.

Many City Council members liked the look of the terra cotta bandshell, which would be located in the southeast corner facing west. The bandshell design would have terra cotta bricks formed into a curving “iconic structure,” Woodhouse Tinucci Architects Principal Architect Andy Tinucci said.

The design is not optimal for acoustics, but the bandshell could act as gathering space when not used for performances, Tinucci said.

“I think we should be talking about how much of a bandshell this wants to be versus how much of a gathering space it wants to be,” he said.

Some council members questioned the durability and practicality of the material.

“It just seems like something that could chip or crack and would be a maintenance issue,” council member Brett Hopkins said.

Crystal Lake residents give feedback on the proposed Depot Park designs at an open house meeting on Oct. 23.

The ice harvesting theme focused on sharp angles and glass to mimic ice elements. Bandshell options could be an open structure to view from all sides or be placed on the west side of the park with tiered stadium seating, Teska Associates Principal Urban Designer Jodi Mariano said.

“I like the terra cotta layout, but I love the ice,” Mayor Haig Haleblian said. “I think it’s a nice concept that dovetails into the history of Crystal Lake.”

Crystal Lake has a history of ice harvesting, started in the mid-1850s where ice companies would cut and store ice from Crystal Lake during the winter months, according to McHenry County Living.

A lesser-known history is the production of terra cotta bricks and tiles in the late 1800s to the early 1900s, according to the Crystal Lake Historical Society.

All options could be mixed and matched from the proposed themed designs, Mariano said.

The pergola design proposes a long structure that would board the perimeter of the park and rise to make a bandshell area, Mariano said. Panels at the bandshell would act as sound and visual barriers, Tinucci said.

“This would allow for sounds to project out into the audience,” he said. “It would also be more opaque to the train.”

The pergola theme was the least popular among residents and City Council members. It also has the potential to be the most costly since the pergola structure would be so large, Tinucci said.

Developers plan on keeping the PACE bus route through the plaza and the same number of parking spaces, Mariano said. They also plan on prioritizing the protection of Pop’s Corn Crib and either keep or relocate the veterans memorial somewhere else in the park.

Some designs keep the current gazebo and others remove the structure to replace it with a center-placed bandshell. City Council members and residents didn’t show strong interest in keeping the gazebo since it’s small and doesn’t hold a historical significance.

City Council members indicated they prefer Depot Park not to have a playground but to be more adult-oriented.

“It’s cerebral, it’s serene, it’s slow action,” council member Mandy Montford said.

Talks of an ice rink emerged, but the developers ultimately ruled it out because it would be too costly to construct and maintain, Mariano said.

“We have put ice skating aside for the time being to focus more on just holiday activities and more cost-effective things that can be done in the winter time,” Mariano said.

Crystal Lake residents can provide input on the proposed Depot Park designs by emailing planning@crystallake.org.

Developers plan on having a final design concept to propose to the city in the next few months, Mariano said.