Project Updates

As updates are provided we will post a description of each project with pictures

If you have questions about any of the projects listed on this page, please contact Ann Viger, Director of Planning and Development at 815.459.0680, ext. 4205 or via email.

Ken Bird and Sam Johns Playgrounds

Ladd Park Playground Replacement

Sterne's Fen Restoration Project

2020-2021 PROJECTS

Ken Bird and Sam Johns Playgrounds

Ken bird site information

Ken Bird park: 1800 thomasville Ln, Crystal Lake, IL

sam johns park: 1270 westport ridge, crystal lake, il

UPDATE: JUNE 21, 2021

The surfacing at Ken Bird playground and Sam Johns playground is still tacky. Both surfaces will be inspected again on Wed, June 23 - meanwhile, the fences are staying up.

UPDATE: JUNE 10, 2021

The old safety surfacing has been removed to prepare for the installation of new. The playgrounds are fenced and closed until the projects are completed.

UPDATE: MAY 28, 2021

After a delay caused by the safety surfacing manufacturer, the project is expected to begin the week of June 7. Both playgrounds will be closed while the safety surfacing is being removed and replaced.

Update: Mar 5, 2021

The safety surfacing under both of these playgrounds will be removed and replaced this spring. The playgrounds will be closed during construction. Watch here for updates.

Ladd Park Playground

556 Coventry Ln, Crystal Lake, IL

UPDATE: JUNE 18, 2021

Inspections are complete, the construction fencing has been removed and Ladd Playground is officially open.

UPDATE: JUNE 10, 2021

Work is coming to an end on the new playground for Ladd Park! The equipment and safety surfacing are completed. The contractor will be cleaning up the site over the next few days. When the fence is removed, the playground will be officially open!

UPDATE: MAY 28, 2021

After a shipping delay from the manufacturer, work will resume soon on the playground project. The safety surfacing is scheduled for installation the week of June 7, so watch for the playground to reopen soon after that!

UPDATE: APR 26, 2021

The new playground equipment is beginning to rise! The concrete pad in these pictures will be a patio with a picnic table and bench.

Update: Apr 15, 2021

It may not look like much right now, but work is well underway for the installation of a beautiful new playground at Ladd Park. The old equipment has been removed and underdrains have been installed. The site is now being prepared for a new concrete sidewalk and concrete curb edging around the new playground. Keep an eye out over the next few weeks - the new equipment is on its way and installation will begin soon!

UPDATE: JAN 12, 2021

The new playground at Ladd Park is one step closer to reality! After receiving a lot of great feedback from neighbors and users of the park, the conceptual designs were refined and shown here is the final plan for the playground. Keep in mind this is a computer image, so doesn't look completely lifelike! What is not shown in this image is the safety surfacing under the playground which will be a brightly colored solid rubber surface, and a stand-alone handicap accessible swingset. A paved walkway will connect the playground to Coventry Lane near the baseball field and a bike rack, benches and trash cans will also be installed.

Installation of the playground is currently "out to bid". Plans are to have a contract finalized in February or March so that the job can begin as soon as weather allows. Watch here for more schedule updates!

Overall View

View 1

View 2

View 3


5617 E. Hillside Rd, Crystal Lake, IL

Update: Oct 6, 2020

Work continues at Sterne's Fen to maintain the restored fen and remove invasive species throughout the park. This work is done by both contractors and volunteers and is essential to keep the natural areas healthy.

Update: Feb 12, 2020

The contractor has finished with the tree removal at Sterne's. There are two pile of logs remaining to be removed from the parking lot, but the cutting is complete. They made to the "priority II" trees. The trail is now open for use.

Update: Feb 6, 2020

At this point the contractor is about half way through moving east to west. They are estimating being done by the end of the day on Mon, Feb 10. They have also started hauling out the timbered logs from the parking lot and hope to have the pile down to a minimum by the end of the day, Feb 7.

Update: Feb 3, 2020

A portion of the Sterne's Fen trail will be closed this week to remove unhealthy trees.

Update: Jan 25, 2020

Due to recent snowfall and ice coverage, work will resume once snow melts from path.

Update: Jan 16, 2020

Upcoming Restoration Work in Sterne's Woods and Fen

The Crystal Lake Park District will be removing several trees located along the trail system at Veteran Acres and Sterne's Woods and Fen. As a result, portions of the trails will be closed for the safety of our visitors while the work is being performed. At no time will the entire trail system be closed to the public.

Beginning next week, large aggressive trees that were allowed to establish in the absence of fire will be removed from Sterne's Woods and Fen as part of the ongoing Sterne's Fen Restoration project. This work should last approximately one week, weather permitting, and will only impact the portion of the trails at Sterne's identified in the map below.

The work at Veteran Acres will take place over the next three months and will involve the removal of several large dead or dying trees along the trail north of The Nature Center. These trees pose a potential threat to the safety of our visitors, volunteers, and staff and will be removed as weather and time permits. Detailed information regarding the schedule and location of the removals will be posted as it is available.

Please direct questions to John Fiorina, Manager of Natural Resources and Interpretive Services at or 815.321.9080.

Update: Nov 1, 2019

Upcoming Restoration Work in Sterne's Woods and Fen

In 2014 the Crystal Lake Park District began a multi-phase project to restore the hydrology of Sterne's Fen. The info below pertains to the next phase of restoration that will take place early in 2020.

Sterne's Fen Nature Preserve is dependent upon an uninterrupted and unaltered flow of groundwater. Currently, a series of invasive trees located primarily along the toe of the slopes adjacent to the walking path are intercepting that groundwater flow. It has been estimated that through transpiration each large tree wicks away approximately 700 gallons of groundwater daily. The goal of this project is to remove the trees that are responsible for this great loss of groundwater. The project is being funded through the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County via a stewardship grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.

Four areas have been identified for removal and are ranked by priority. The exact scope of the project will be determined once bids are received for the tree removal.

map of sternes woods and fen detailing invasive tree removal priority areas

Print map

This project will be started once the ground is well frozen in order to lessen disturbance in the removal areas. It is anticipated that the work will take place in January or February of 2020.

This project has received the approval of the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission and the Crystal Lake Park District. Prior restoration projects at Sterne's Woods and Fen have yielded very positive results in a very short amount of time. Just recently, the reintroduction of sunlight to the soil has allowed a dormant bank of native seeds to flourish during the 2019 growing season.

We will continue to post updates on this page. As always, feel free to contact the park district with questions.

Update: March 29, 2019

As soon as the weather is appropriate, the fen will be seeded with native plants. Invitations to the April 23 open house were mailed to neighbors earlier this week. A notice about the open house is also on our website, on Facebook, on our lobby monitors and posted in several buildings.

Update: March 21, 2019

Removal of invasive trees and undergrowth is complete. When weather permits native seed will be spread throughout the restoration area. An open house is being planned for April 23 at 6 PM at Sterne's Woods and Fen to discuss the renovation project and tour the site. Watch for further details.

Update: March 8, 2019

The removal of invasive trees and shrubs that damage the sensitive fen is nearing completion. When weather permits, native seed will be spread to encourage healthy development of the fen.

Update: February 19, 2019

The removal of invasive trees and shrubs along Hillside Road is underway. These plants are undesirable because they remove a large amount of water from the area and shade the ground nearby, therefore endangering the high quality native plants within the fen. Weather permitting, the tree removal is expected to last for several days.

Update: December 14, 2018

The check dams have been installed. Clearing/burning of buckthorn and other invasive species continues.

Update: December 7, 2018

Work continued all week in the fen. A crew is busy removing buckthorn and other invasive trees from the fen. The material is being piled and then burned so there is a few constant plumes of smoke over Sterne's every day. Four of the six check dams have been installed.

Crew at work at Sterne's Woods
Work continues at Sterne's Woods

Update: November 28, 2018

The Crystal Lake Park District will begin another phase of the Sterne's Fen Restoration Project in early winter. Similar to the most recent phase of restoration, this phase will concentrate on rehydrating the fen by removing invasive trees and brush, installing check dams in channelized streams, and ongoing management of vegetation. The project will include approximately 4.5 acres of invasive/weedy tree removal in the park and along Hillside Road.

The project is being funded through McHenry County's Wetland Restoration Fund and in cooperation with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission.

Questions may be directed to John Fiorina, Manager of Natural Resources and Interpretative Services, at or Ann Viger, Director of Park Development and Interpretive Services at