An empty lot off at the corner of McHenry Avenue and Randall Road in Crystal Lake is on track to be transformed into a habitat for pollinators like bees, birds and butterflies, the first such project undertaken by McHenry County Division of Transportation.
First, on the to-do list, though, is a vote by the McHenry County Board Tuesday on whether to approve a ComEd green grant to help pay for the project and a company needs to be selected to do the work, Assistant Director of Transportation Scott Hennings said in an email.
The grant, if approved, would fund 50% of the site preparation and planting of pollinator seed, up to $10,000, Hennings said.
The 1.7-acre parcel is owned by McHenry County because it was once the right-of-way for Randall Road and McHenry Avenue before Rakow Road was built and the road was realigned to the east, according to county records.
“This site is an exceptional location to implement a pollinator habitat,” the county said in a request for proposals last month. “For one, it is extremely visible to the public. Over 30,000 vehicles per day pass the site on Randall Road, the County’s most heavily traveled corridor. Crystal Lake South High School is only a quarter mile north of the site and teachers could use the habitat for ecology lessons. Finally, this project activates a property that is underutilized.”
The site wasn’t being used by the public at all, but the plans to transform it into a pollinator garden also include ideas to make it more useful to its neighbors.
Residents living along Windham Cove Drive “will benefit tremendously” with walking paths leading north along McHenry Avenue and west along Ackman Road giving residents who live farther away access as well, the county said in a request for proposals posted last month.
Educational signs describing the importance of pollinator species and drawing attention to various plants in the habitat were also in the works, both for Crystal Lake South High School, which is less than a quarter of a mile from the site, and users of the Pace suburban bus network, according to the request for proposals.
The McHenry County Division of Transportation will work with Pace to install a bus stop pad and shelter to allow transit riders to access the pollinator habitat site using Bus Route 550.
If the project is successful, similar pollinator habitat programs could be established throughout the county’s highway system, according to the request.
The project is one of two in McHenry County that received Green Region Grants from ComEd, according to a news release. The other will go to the village of Prairie Grove for a walking trail accented by native and carbon-reducing trees and shrubs to create a beautiful, tranquil and environmentally positive landmark for residents.