Village of Round Lake Heights

A little history...

The history of Round Lake Heights started shortly after World War II. A company named L.B. Harris of Chicago started advertising homes for sale for as low as $695, which came out to be about $3.00 per week! Lots sold for $900 for a quarter acre of land. The land was originally owned by Frank and Antionette Grenus, and was known simply as the Grenus Farm.
It was during construction that it was said that arrow heads were found, and so the area being built was called Indian Hill, or the "Hill". That became the unofficial name for the area until it incorporated in 1960.
It was after the end of the war when Indian Hill began to grow with service men and women coming here from the city to raise a family. In March of 1949 the Indian Hill Home Owners Association was chartered. This gave the home owners some control over what happened within their subdivision and control over any events that may happen over the course of time. Events and meeting were held every Monday night at the Rollins Inn. They had many fundraisers such as carnivals and dances. Money from these events was used to fix the roads and to build the Indian Hill Social Club (currently La Taluca), which was completed in 1950.
The late forties saw the first roads, W. Tomahawk, Flintwood, and W. Warrior. There was construction of five new homes made from former boxcars. They were first used for storage of equipment before becoming houses. You can still see four of them on W. Warrior and three at the North end of Tomahawk.
Before 1954 all of the homes in the "Hill" were on septic tanks, so they began to put sewers in. The total cost for this project was $148,655.00, with each home being assessed at $270, the home owner could choose either to pay up front or over the course of ten years.
As the population grew, there was a need for new schools. School District 43 contracted bids for the construction of Indian Hill School in 1955. It was to have six rooms and a small office, and house grades 1 through 6. During this time the school district held a split school day with grades 1, 2, and 3 in the morning, and grades 4, 5, and 6 in the afternoon. School district 43 later was voted to merge with the High School, becoming district 116.
In 1955 the Round Lake Civic Betterment League was formed to see if the three towns could consolidate into one town, and they included the "Hill". A meeting was held in the "Hill" to discuss this idea and to see what benefits it would have to them. After much discussion on this matter, it was decided that they would not partake in any incorporation of the three towns. As the area began to grow, the idea of incorporation was brought up again. So in 1957 it was put to the vote. The results were 280 against, and 169 for.
Round Lake Beach purchased the water department from L.B. Harris in 1958 for $115,000. There were many angry residents in Indian Hill complaining of rusty water and a nine month bill for service. Because of these water problems and the need to control what was going on along Rollins Road, the talk of incorporation came again.
So, in December of 1959 a petition with 85 signatures was filed with the Lake County Court House for incorporation. The area to be incorporated was Grub Hill Road on the west, township line on the north, ditch line on the east, and the middle of Rollins Road on the south. The name Round Lake Heights was suggested to show unity with the rest of the area. In January, 1960 the incorporation vote failed for the second time by a margin of just three votes, with 162 for, and 165 against. With the election results being so close, proponents decided to change strategies. They would narrow down the proposed territory and talk to the people about all the benefits of being incorporated. Round Lake Beach, the already established village, had to grant approval before the election could take place. The Beach made no move to stop the election. So it came down to the vote of the people on whether to become a village or to stay as a Home Owner's Association. After all was said and done, on April 2, 1960 the residents of Indian Hill Subdivision spoke and approved their incorporation with a vote of 219 for, and 196 against. The issue was settled on May 12, 1960 when the State of Illinois issued the incorporation charter for Round Lake Heights, recognizing Round Lake Heights, Illinois.
At the time when Round Lake Beach's Indian Hill Subdivision incorporated into the Village of Round Lake Heights the population was 1,099, there were 300 homes, and the average price of a home was between $6,500 and $8,500.
Now that the issue of incorporation was settled, it was time to elect the first mayor, board of trustees, and village clerk. The first board consisted of: Mayor William McDonald, Clerk Marion Wietor, and Trustees Albert Johnson, Robert Muenchausen, Norman Stone, William Schneider, Harry Jelinek, and Edward Semback. Utilizing what they had, the new village clerk's office was in her garage, the police department was run out of another garage, and meetings were held at the Indian Hill Social Club on the third Wednesday of the month at 8:00 pm.
The first order of business was to adopt ordinances to start money coming into the village, and second to start a police department. In August of 1960, the police department came into existence. The Village started out with a volunteer officer patrolling from 7pm to 11pm. The one police car and uniforms were purchased from funds raised by the first police department. In 1961 the first village treasurer was appointed by the board, and that was Mrs. Magdelen Jonker, who served until 1982.
In 1962 the village board debated on setting the speed limit within the village. After much discussion, they set the speed limit at 20 mph, which is still in effect today. During this year, the village also passed its first liquor ordinance, giving the Board control of the selling of alcohol within village limits. (In 1958 the Homeowners Association refused the sale of liquor on their side of the road)
Street lights were also a big concern for the village, since there were a number of very dark streets within the village. In 1963 the first street lights were put on key locations. Shortly after this, the village saw its worst fire in village history. The peat bog located on the northeast corner of Rollins and Meadowbrook (Tomahawk) caught on fire, and burned for several days. The fire was thick enough to close down Rollins Road, and even the new street lights were not enough to see through the dense smoke.
In 1968 the Indian Hill Social Club raised the rent 100% for the use of the building for village meetings. The Board knew that it was time to look for a new facility to hold their meetings. They began holding meetings at the Indian Hill School Gym, but could keep no village property there. It wasn't until 1970 that the village purchased a burnt out house to renovate and turn into the new village hall. Much of the money to do this was raised by dance fund raisers. It was also during 1968 that Indian Hill School annexed into the village.
Due to incoming revenue, the village was finally able to employ a full time police department complete with full time chief and dispatcher. Prior to this, police officers were only paid $15.00 per month. So in May of 1976, the Police Department started a 24-hour operation. It can be noted that for a short period of time during the eighties funds decreased drastically. This caused the police department to go back to a part-time force, with 12-hour patrols, mostly at night. Thanks to a federal grant in 1995, the village returned to a full time police department.
Shag Bark Park annexed into the village in 1977. This brought into the village the oldest park in the area, which is on the National Registry. It was one of 13 trails in Illinois to be listed as a National Recreation Trail. It contains "Illinois Prairie Grass" being one of three locations in Illinois. The trail belongs to the Round Lake Park District, and it was awarded a certificate of designation. It was a wonderful addition to Round Lake Heights.
The 1980's saw the village grow to almost double its size. In 1980 eighty acres were annexed into the village as "B" residential. In 1981 another 100 acres along with the marsh were also annexed into the village. This later became known as the Fairfield Marsh. With annexation it brought along a lot of discussion on what will become of the marsh and the land surrounding the marsh.
1983 saw a major improvement with the understanding of upgrading, resurfacing, and reconstruction of Lotus Drive, from Rollins Road to Mohawk. This was accomplished by the Lotus Drive FAU project. The two year project was completed in November 1985 by this FAU grant, which very few villages are rewarded.
1993 was a great start for us. We installed storm sewer improvement at Cedarwood Circle, Mohawk Drive, Tomahawk Trail, Warrior Drive and Pontiac Court. This was also the first year that we had our village festival, Halloween party, and Christmas party. These events really bring our community together, and allow us to get to know our neighbors. We started snow plowing for our seniors and disabled residents, and collecting food donations for our resident food drive. Our Village has seen many great changes, and continues to prosper. We started in 1993 with a budget $300,000 of revenue, and today we have over 1 ½ million dollars between water/sewer and general fund.
Over the next few years, our Police Department saw many great changes. We established 24-hour police protection for the village. We also started our Public Works department, and took over snow plowing of our streets from Avon Township. In 1995 we received a ½ million-dollar grant to put in a 3-acre pond, which is now Arrowhead detention.
In 1997 we welcomed Pasquinelli Development to town! This brought much needed revenue to the village. We were able to purchase the water company from Round Lake Beach, giving us control over our rates and services. We purchased our first new public works dump truck since 1973. The water main projects were started, and over the next 10 years we did 1 ½ million dollars worth of improvements, and are still continuing this process.
By 2000, we had received $200,000 from the state to buy municipal equipment. We also welcomed Neumann Homes Development to the village. We were the first in Lake County to establish the Dollars for Scholars program in 2001. To date we have raised more than $44,500 and given away 57 scholarships to our residents to further their education. We also established our own Building Department in 2002.
In 2003 we built the new village hall to better serve our residents. The old village hall was later used to house the community radio station, WRLR 98.3. Two homes on Pontiac Ct. were purchased and tore down through grant funds, and the land is now Arrowhead Park, which was built in 2004. We have since added three more parks, Chesapeake Trails, Huron Hills, and Tomahawk Trail with the help of the Round Lake Area Park District.
There was a special census conducted in 2006 for the village. This brought our population from 1,310 to 2,773 residents. This added an additional $200,000 in revenue for Motor Fuel Taxes, Income Tax, and State Use Tax. We also annexed property on Fairfield Road and Rollins Road for future business development. The wellhouse on E. Cedarwood Circle was rebuilt. Our village website was established in 2006, and by 2007 we added our village codes online and started E-Pay, which allows residents to pay their water bills and ordinance violations online. * A special thanks to John Jonker for providing us with much of the history.