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Towne Park’s mineral springs in Algonquin to see improvements

Algonquin Historic Commission to weigh options at Wednesday meeting

A bridge over Crystal Creek in Algonquin's Towne Park. The Algonquin Historic Commission will be discussing renovations to the historic mineral springs are along the creek as part of potential park renovations that could be finalized as early as June, city planners said.

As the village of Algonquin looks to renovate Towne Park, the village’s Historic Commission will weigh possible options to renovate the mineral springs portion of the park and better highlight the site’s historic significance.

The renovations to Towne Park are set to include a new playground, but the village also wants to preserve and enhance the park’s character, Assistant Village Manager Mike Kumbera said.

“The Towne Park is one of the oldest and largest parks in our system,” Kumbera said. “There’s lots of history there, one of them being the mineral springs site.”

The mineral springs is located next to Crystal Creek at the south end of the park, close to where goes underneath Main Street and flows into the Fox River.

Recreation Superintendent Katie Gock said while several options are being considered, the idea is to do a “restoration” in the mineral springs section of Towne Park, highlighting that portion of the park as a gateway and entrance.

“Right now the spring is just off by itself,” Gock said. “We want to roll it into the park plan and highlight it as a feature because there’s so many historical elements within the park. We’re trying to honor all of these things.”

Gock also cited features, such as the baseball field and the playground, which was built in 1994, as particularly beloved by the community and so elements the village hopes to preserve in some form.

A concept plan from March 2022 for the overall Towne Park in Algonquin. City planners are hoping to finalize a master plan to renovate the site by June of this year, which will include highlighting portions of the site deemed historic, such as the mineral springs.

As part of the village’s master plan study, the village partnered with Hitchcock Design Group to identify and work on how to tap into the mineral springs’ potential to capture visitor’s interest.

Hitchcock has researched the site’s history to see how it can be updated, said Bridget Deatrick, a senior associate with Hitchcock who is working on the project.

The firm does not have any concrete plans yet, but Deatrick described a “range of ecological and historical considerations for the spring” that will be presented Wednesday.

“It’s a very interesting park,” Deatrick said. “The mineral springs goes back to the early history of human settlement in the area.”

According to state archives, the mineral springs site was acquired by Algonquin in 1915 and was renamed to become the Towne Park.

The village has already held several public meetings on the overall Towne Park design.

A bridge over Crystal Creek in Algonquin's Towne Park, looking southeast towards the mineral springs site and Main Street. The Algonquin Historic Commission will be discussing renovations to the historic mineral springs are along the creek as part of potential park renovations that could be finalized as early as June, city planners said.

The cost of the Towne Park improvements have yet to be determined, although once the village has a better idea of what the design concepts are, the cost of restoring mineral springs and other individual elements of the project could be discussed in June, when a master plan for the park is presented to the village’s Committee of the Whole, Gock said.

Improving the Towne Park is a key feature of the 10-year master plan the village adopted last year. The plan’s timeline calls for final concepts for Towne Park to be determined by the end of this year.

The park district was awarded $3.1 million in grants last year from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Open Space Lands Acquisition and Development program, which the village can eventually put towards future park renovations, Kumbera said.

The historic commission meeting will take place 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Ganek Municipal Center.