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Spring Grove's Hatchery Park looks to improve

SPRING GROVE –An electronic gate is next on the wish list for Hatchery Park.

The village of Spring Grove park, which celebrated its grand opening in September, is managed by volunteers, which means the village relies on volunteers to open and close the gate each day.

“For the most part, it’s working, but it’s not 100 percent viable,” Trustee and Parks and Recreation Chairman Bob McMahon said.

Most of the proceeds from a fundraiser dinner are earmarked for the gate, which will cost $15,000, including the electric service, McMahon said. Tickets for the dinner are on sale through Monday.

Twice before, the dinner has sold out. A fish boil fundraiser also is each fall to raise money for the park.

The gate isn’t the only improvement volunteers want to see.

They’d like to provide a gazebo for picnickers, a bridge to connect the park’s milelong trail with the village’s downtown and a separate building for bathrooms.

The last, which would require hooking up to the sewer line, would be pricey, so officials are keeping an eye out for grants, McMahon said.

“We’re trying to continue improving the site,” he said. “We envision this as a long-term project.”

The park was designed around the original hatchery building, which now houses the visitors center. In addition to the trail, there are docks and piers for catch-and-release fishing.

It once was the site of the largest fish hatchery in existence when it was developed in 1914 by the Illinois Department of Conservation, Village President Mark Eisenberg said during the park’s original ribbon-cutting ceremony.

After the hatchery had been decommissioned by the state in 2004, state and local officials worked to get the property’s ownership turned over to the village. Restoration finally came after a lot of fundraising and a $300,000 matching grant.

Because the building is about a hundred years old, maintenance is an issue, McMahon said. Something always is popping up.

“It’s being used even more than we anticipated,” he said, adding that people always are out there walking their dogs or fishing.

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