Algonquin’s Towne Park has received a matching grant amount from the state of Illinois for a complete makeover, starting next spring. Included in the plans is the restoration of the historic Mineral Springs site, as well as the original concrete seating from 1916, with interpretative signage.
The park was initially named for the springs and runs under Main Street into the Fox River. At the turn of the past century, the waters were sought after for their purported “medicinal” purposes, as with other towns like Waukegan and Zion. It is located on the south banks of Crystal Creek near Jefferson Street.
The Algonquin Village Board recognized the Algonquin Garden Club and the Algonquin Historic Commission for contributions totaling $22,500 toward the restoration, during their Oct. 25 meeting.
The Algonquin Garden Club secured a $10,000 grant from the Daughters of the American Revolution, and an $8,000 grant from the Schwemm Family Foundation. The Algonquin Historic Commission agreed to provide $4,500 in grant funding to the project.
“We are excited about the restoration work and park construction scheduled for next year, said Village President Debby Sosine, in a statement. “It will enhance the beauty and historical significance of Towne Park for our residents and visitors alike.”
Last March Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced nearly $60 million in grants for local parks and recreation projects throughout the state. The subsequent $600,000 grant through the Open Space Land and Acquisition Development provided the impetus for a local matching amount of $1.6 million for the first round of improvements.
A second phase is also scheduled for next year with an embankment play area, renovated restroom building, new bandshell, and an accessible riverwalk connection. The total cost for both phases, according to village estimates, is $4.3 million. Since 2020, the village has been able to obtain $1.4 million in OSLAD funding for improvements to its parks system.
Other amenities encompass a gazebo, chessboard picnic tables, pingpong tables, scenic overlooks and memorial paver stones. Towne Park was identified as a priority by residents in the village’s 2021 Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Master Plan.
The Mineral Springs site, along the Algonquin River bluffs, dates back to the original settlement of the area. The artesian well brought people to the area, filling bottles for carry-away use.
“Medicinal” spring well water was popular in Waukegan, which had three such sites at Roosevelt Park, Glen Flora Springs, and Magnesia Springs. The latter was bottled and sold under its name, later becoming the Glen Rock Bottling Co., making soda pop.
“Mineral Springs is an important part of our Towne Park master plan, and the restoration of this site will be incorporated into the park work,” said Michael Kumbera, Algonquin’s deputy village manager. “We plan to begin construction in the spring of next year on the park’s renovations. Currently, we are still working through the design phase.”
Kumbera also said the springs have been dry for many decades, covered, and not functional.
“The work is purely restoration to the concrete seating area and the cap,” he said.