MCCD Explores Options for Camp Algonquin, Fox Bluff Area
The McHenry County Conservation District is seeking public input on five draft options to a master plan for the Fox Bluff Conservation Area during a meeting Thursday.
The public will soon get to sound off on the future use for the grounds of the former Camp Algonquin, which closed last year after over 100 years in business.
On Thursday, the McHenry County Conservation District will reveal five draft options to a master plan for the 279 acres of its Fox Bluff Conservation area, which includes the former site of Camp Algonquin, said Austin Taylor, associate landscape architect for the MCCD. The land is located west of Cold Springs Road and between Cary Algonquin Road and the Fox River in Algonquin.
The public will be able to review the MCCD's draft master plan for the Fox Bluff area and provide feedback during an open house Thursday from 5 to 8 p.m. at Prairieview Education Center, 2112 Behan Road in Crystal Lake.
“It is meant to get the feedback from interested public on some draft plan options for the site,” Taylor said. The MCCD has been consulting with village leaders in Cary and Algonquin, county leaders, and residents living in nearby subdivisions on ideas for the area since it first started exploring its options last fall.
Camp Algonquin, which was located on 216 acres of the MCCD’s land, closed its doors in early 2011 after a tumultuous couple years.
In November 2008, three Chicago teens drown in the Fox River while attending a leadership camp at Camp Algonquin, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The teens took paddleboats out into the Fox River. The cork-size bottom plug from the paddleboats had been removed for the winter, causing one of the paddleboats to sink.
Then in January 2011, the McHenry County YMCA, which managed the camp, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, according to the Northwest Herald. Among the reasons for the bankruptcy the YMCA cited pending lawsuits, according to the NW Herald. Family of the drowning victims filed negligence lawsuits against the YMCA.
Moving Forward: What's Next for Camp Algonquin, Fox Bluff
While Taylor did not provide details on the five options that would be presented at Thursday’s open house, he said there were no plans of using the site as an overnight camp moving forward. The draft plan does identify uses for specific buildings on the former camp site.
“All of the buildings are still there. There are various sizes from large to small, new to old. And there is also all different levels of building conditions,” Taylor said. “So in the draft plan, we identified half a dozen buildings to get feedback on some sort adaptive re-use.”
The natural resources throughout the property include woodlands, wetlands, fens, wet prairies and 3,500 linear feet of shorline along the Fox River, according to the MCCD website.
The topography is steep with varying slopes and ravines with an elevation change of 150 feet across the sire, showcasing unique ravine and bluff natural communities, according to the MCCD site.
In addition, the northern 163 acres of the Fox Bluff area includes a half-mile of Fox River access, a .25-mile paved trail down to the Fox River, a .55-mile grass trail on the northern portion of the land, and is open to the public for hiking, cross-country skiing and fishing. The conservation district has a paved parking lot, picnic shelter and restrooms available on the facility.
Meshing Fox Bluff, Camp Algonquin Sites
While the MCCD began implementing parts of a master plan for the northern portion Fox Bluff conservation area, it is currently re-visiting that plan as it explores options for the Camp Algonquin site.
“We are looking to re-analyze that plan to mesh the two sites together,” Taylor said.
The district’s planning and development department drafted the plans and no money has been allocated at this point for future improvements to the area.
“As we start to finalize plans we will look to put together cost figures,” Taylor said.
The draft plan will be posted on the McHenry County Conservation District website from Aug. 3 through Aug. 24. During that time frame, the MCCD will be seeking public feedback on the plans.
From there, we will gather and assess all the comments from the public and look to develop those into a preliminary plan,” Taylor said.