Our guest contributor this week is Pat Barch, the Hoffman Estates Historian. This column originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of the Hoffman Estates Citizen, the village’s newsletter. The column appears here, courtesy of the Village of Hoffman Estates.
Ponds and lakes seem to be in every neighborhood in Hoffman Estates. The very oldest areas of town in Parcel A & B are about the only areas that don’t have some kind of retention pond to gather runoff when we have heavy rains. F & S Construction didn’t begin grading the other parts of town to prevent flooding until they developed the area around Lakeview School in Parcel C & D. (You can see some of the lakes and ponds in this early map of Hoffman Estates from the Schaumburg Township District Library’s map file.)
The retention ponds became places for fishing in the summer, enjoying the ducks and geese and ice skating in the winter. Eventually ice skating was limited to just a few ponds. With warmer winters and safety issues it was best not to offer ice skating anymore.
I wondered how many of the ponds were actual lakes that the developer found when he began to build the homes in Hoffman Estates. Looking at a National Geographic Survey map from 1953, I found the areas that did have ponds put in by F & S and other builders, were already wetlands that were natural choices for retention ponds and flood control. The only lakes I could find on the NGS maps were up north off Algonquin Rd: Whispering Lake Park off of Huntington Blvd., South Ridge Lake Park off of Fremont Rd. and Westbury Lake Park off of Dresden & Westbury Dr..
When you look at the map of Hoffman Estates and surrounding towns, you find these marked as lakes. All the other ponds shown on the Hoffman Estates portion of the map do not have names. They are the ponds that the developers planned into the area they were building to provide control of excess rain water and provide proper drainage for the neighborhood.
It’s wonderful to have these ponds and lakes in our town. The parks that are part of the lakes and ponds are great places to visit on warm summer days. Some have playgrounds, others have walking paths but all are an asset to our village.
In researching the newspapers for stories about the parks, I found a very funny story about the ducks and geese that frequent our park ponds and lakes. 50 years ago, in the Nov. 24th, 1966 edition of the Daily Herald, it seems that eighteen white ducks “of the domestic variety” were to be evicted from Lakeview pond next to Lakeview School. Lyle Button, Hoffman Estates Park Commissioner, was going to transport the ducks to Brookfield Zoo where they would be “happier”. He revealed to board members that “he had his course of action planned”. As parks Improvement committee chairman, he would buy several long handled chicken catchers. Four boys would assist him with the project. Did it really happen? I would have loved to be standing on the shore watching “the project” completed by those four boys. Was Mr. Button in the boat with them? I’ve not found another story that answers these questions.
We know that a special variety of swans guard the ponds and lakes warding off unwanted ducks and geese. Mr. Button would’ve liked that I’m sure.
Hoffman Estates Village Historian
Summer photo above, of the pond near Lakeview School, was graciously submitted by C. Blotteaux.