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Scuba diving, wake boarding proposed for Three Oaks

CRYSTAL LAKE – Crystal Lake City Council members are considering major expansions to Three Oaks Recreation Area, including a scuba facility and wakeboard park.

Council members gave city officials the OK to apply for a state grant that could fund up to 50 percent of a roughly $400,000 scuba area project at the 400-plus-acre park. To receive the Open Space Land Acquisition and Development Grant, the city would need to show it has 100 percent of the funding necessary to complete the project and it must be completed within the established timeframe.

Scuba diving has been in high demand since the city converted the former Vulcan Lakes gravel pits into the $14.3 million major boating, fishing and swimming destination. Deputy City Manager Eric Helm said the proposed scuba diving area would be on the east side of the marina in the south lake.

Helm said the area would include a pier and shoreline modifications to provide the best diving experience. He said there are no plans to rent any equipment, but the area still would quickly become a prime destination for scuba enthusiasts.

"The water clarity is really unparalleled in northern Illinois," Helm said. "There are not many public scuba diving facilities, so it would be a unique amenity."

Crystal Lake firm Copley McGinnis Group also has been charged with developing a conceptual plan for a wakeboard park. Wakeboard parks require a series of cables and pulleys connected to towers that pull boarders along the water similar to water skiing. The cables are electric-powered.

Charles Copley, one of the developers, said the park would be on a corner of the north lake and require five to six towers, which they said would blend with existing architecture. The park also would have a small parking lot and concession stand.

With only about 17 parks in the country and the nearest wakeboard locations in Cincinnati and Kansas City, Copley said the facility would draw people from Wisconsin, Indiana and all over the region.

"There is no negative part to this," he said. "It is going to draw people from all over and help Three Oaks become a major destination."

Helm said that if plans go smoothly, the proposed park could be open next year, but there would be no rush through the process because it is important to maintain the aesthetics of the park.

"The main focus is keeping Three Oaks looking beautiful and prestine," he said. "There will be different ways to help make it blend in, but the emphasis will be making it fit into that beautiful landscape."

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