In 2007, the Village purchased a 26-acre farm along Kelsey Road from longtime Village residents Art & Norma Freier as part of the Village’s Open Space Initiative. The property was appropriately named “Freier Farm” and the Village was committed to preserving the historic, open space qualities of the site. The Village of Lake Barrington is known as a “community unique in its countryside character and open spaces.” From the time the land was purchased, the Village has used it for community purposes. In 2009, the Village began its annual Barn Stomp community event, which centers around the Village’s bucolic nature, and held it at Freier Farm.
In 2012, the Village of Lake Barrington was awarded an Open Space Lands Acquisition and Develop (OSLAD) grant to convert the farm into a community park with additional amenities for the residents. Gewalt Hamilton served as the surveyor, lead site designer and provided construction management services for the project that converted the farm fields into a community garden, outdoor gathering area / ice rink with fire pit, horseshoe and baggo courts and a sledding hill.
A key design objective was to preserve the existing farm buildings on the site; the house is rented out by the Village and the large storage building is used by the Cuba Township Road District to store vehicles and materials. The Village also wanted to preserve a portion of the existing farmland on the site for potential farming use and also for hayrides at the annual Barn Stomp. In addition, the site contained natural resources with required careful engineering planning and permitting. Those areas included a wetland under the jurisdiction of the US Army Corps of Engineers, a wetland under the jurisdiction of Lake County Stormwater Management Commission and depressional floodplain.
Gewalt Hamilton successfully secured permits from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency, Lake County Division of Transportation, Lake County Stormwater Management Commission and the US Army Corps of Engineers to complete the site improvements for the new community park. To date, the Village has held two barn stomp events at Freier Farm, the community garden was widely used in 2014, several patrons have been seen using the sledding hill and the native vegetation has been established across the park area.