Round Lake Beach, Ill., officials visualized one solution that would solve a myriad of problems around Round Lake. The village faced challenges, including land acquisition, transportation and pedestrian access, flood protection, water quality enhancement and park land development. To address all of those issues in one fell swoop, the government decided to acquire land around the lake and develop Lakefront Park.

"The lakefront was an important project for the village because it allowed [us] to accomplish a multitude of projects spanning from the expansion of open space, increased recreation opportunities and amenities, flood protection, and conservation, protection and enhancement of natural areas, including Round Lake, [which is] a natural lake bordering the park," says David Kilbane, village administrator.

Strategic plans for the park included expanding existing lakefront facilities and making lakefront access more usable. Planners also wanted to redevelop a low-lying residential area that was prone to flooding, unsuitable for building houses, and conducive to drugs and crime because of its seclusion. To satisfy both needs, the village acquired 55 parcels of vacant and residential property bordering Round Lake. The work included dredging two channels to make the water deep enough for fishing and boating; constructing a playground; building the park's nature trails, fishing piers and shelter; paving sidewalks and reconstructing off-site access roads.

Once unsuitable as a residential area, Lakefront Park is now a source of community pride and an asset to the village. Residents can access two-and-a-half acres of wetlands created in tandem with a meadowland. At the same time, development of the park eliminated flood-prone structures from the flood plain, increased stormwater capacity to help alleviate flooding, and removed a blighted area, replacing it with open space that the entire community can enjoy.

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