Irons Oaks pond to be rehabilitated to natural state

(Photo by Tom Houlihan/HF Chronicle)

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park District is planning to return a pond at Irons Oaks Environmental Learning Center to its natural state.

When Irons Oaks was being developed, a hole for a pond was dug and a rubber lining was set in place. Now, more than three decades later, the pond “is like a stagnant swimming pool,” because it doesn’t allow for water filtration, said Cheryl Vargo, Irons Oaks manager. The pond is polluted and the deteriorating condition is not conducive to plant growth.

Using a $10,000 Green Region grant awarded by ComEd and Openlands, the park district has begun studying the site to determine how best to convert the area back to its natural wetland state, Vargo said.

“We are thrilled to have received this grant. We have approximately 30,000 visitors annually,” and reverting this area back to a beautifully landscaped area will make it a pleasing addition for guests, Vargo explained.

By early 2016, she expects to have the initial topography studies complete for an architect who will design the location with natural plants that will help make it a natural habitat again.

She expects the project will allow for natural drainage of the approximately one-acre site into Butterfield Creek. The pond is a low spot at Irons Oaks and backs up to Olympia Fields Golf Course.

ComEd selected this project because it will help “advance clean and green initiatives that help to protect the environment and communities now and into the future,” said Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs at ComEd.

Irons Oaks is a joint project of the Homewood-Flossmoor and Olympia Fields Park Districts.

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