March 2011 - Parks & Recreation - 54

Crystal Lake:
A Say at Every Point of the Way

W

hile incorporating ice rinks and climbing walls
was important for Aspen's recreation center,
Crystal Lake, Illinois, found its residents wanted fishing included in the development of Three Oaks Recreation Area. Eric T. Helm, deputy city manager for City of
Crystal Lake, said the most vocal request from the community was that there be a lake utilized for fishing, so a key
component of the project was spent developing a marina
and fishing stations for that purpose. " The city got a lot of
input from community at the front end of the project long before we even did the design work, " Helm says.
Community leaders began to envision meeting these
requests and turning the property into a recreation destination for fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, and special
events. Hitchcock Design Group led a team of architects,
civil engineers, and ecologists in an effort to do this. Despite a few challenges, which included rising water levels,
the $14 million facility was completed in September 2010
and features a pavilion, beach area for swimming, boat
rental marina, and more.
The public had a say at every point of the process, including being able to name the facility. " As a way to thank
the public for its support, local leaders invited residents
to take part in a facility-naming contest, " says Joe White,
marketing coordinator at Hitchcock Design Group. The
winning entry, Three Oaks Recreation Area, reflected the
name of the road that once ran through where the lake
would be located.
White echoes the sentiments of The Summit project-
citizens today are taking a more active interest in how
their tax money will be used. " It's the voters who are the
catalysts behind the planning and execution of community recreation facilities. The public, as a whole, is very
keen to government spending, and local government responded by offering a very transparent view into how
project decisions are made, " White says. " This is no different whether you're doing a home remodeling project
or a building a massive structure. When the community
is behind a project, these setbacks are accepted, understood, and resolved. "
Helm agrees, pointing out that his parks department
strives to make certain the recreation facility aligns with
the desires of the public. In turn, since the recent opening of Three Oaks, the community has been nothing but
positive about the new facility, complementing the design's integration with elements of nature along with the
ease of use. " The initial comments of what the public
wanted led to the success of the facility instead of guessing about it, " he says.
®
ANDREA LYNN is a freelance writer based in New York City

and a frequent contributor to Parks & Recreation.

52	 Parks & Recreation					 M A R C H 	 2 0 1 1 					 w w w . N R P A . O R G



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