Bolingbrook Park District’s Board of Commissioners voted on November 18th to sell the Hidden Oaks Nature Center and Hidden Lakes Historic Trout Farm to the Forest Preserve District of Will County. The Forest Preserve will take ownership of the property effective January 1. “This decision was not taken lightly. This began as a research project in January 2020 with the goal of preserving the property and reducing long-term bond and interest debt for the district,” said Ron Oestreich, Executive Director. “The Forest Preserve District of Will County has the expertise and means to enhance the nature experience on the property and keep it accessible for our residents.”
Hidden Lakes Historic Trout Farm was acquired in 1988 with the aid of Corlands. The site was eventually purchased in 1990. It has long served as a favorite fishing location within the area. Hidden Oaks Nature Center was built in 2009 with the assistance of the Forest Preserve District of Will County. The Forest Preserve provided funding for the acquisition of the land to build the nature center. The goal of both organizations was to preserve the property and provide an opportunity for the community to engage with nature.
“We have always had a great relationship with the Forest Preserve District of Will County. Our park district team did a wonderful job over the last 12 years building the reputation of Hidden Oaks Nature Center to where it is today. We believe the Forest Preserve District will take the property, especially with its connection to Whalon Lakes, to the next level in conservation, outdoor recreation and education,” said Oestreich.
Proceeds from the land and facility sale will be allocated to the reduction of bond debt certificates from the construction of Hidden Oaks Nature Center and Ashbury’s at Boughton Ridge. These are on one debt certificate bond that will see a 50% reduction because of the sale.
The Forest Preserve District of Will County plans to keep the names of the facility and the property the same. They plan to increase the program and exhibit space by transitioning the current classroom and office space. They will also expand rental opportunities to the community, make some improvements around the pavilion, and the pathways and campus landscape. Hidden Lakes Historic Trout Farm will continue to be stocked as well as host fishing derbies. Over 90% of the Forest Preserve’s environmental education programs are free providing Bolingbrook residents with greater opportunities to learn about the environment around them.
“It has always been the mission of the park district to provide park and recreation services in a fiscally responsible manner. We feel this sale is the best for the district, our residents and allows for the continued preservation of this important piece of property,” said Oestreich.
If you have any questions about the sale, please feel free to reach out to Ron Oestreich at (630) 739-0272.