Let County Deliberate Ft. Sheridan Golf Course. Then Make Right Choice

It appears we are in for a period of due diligence while the Board of the Lake County Forest Preserves seeks to find a resolution to the Fort Sheridan golf course conundrum. I suppose I have to respect this slow and deliberative effort to find consensus. One can argue that this is, indeed, the American way.

But I’m impatient. And then, of course, there is the elephant in the room. This elephant is the results of the 6/30 fiscal year end which saw the LCFPD Brae Loch golf course post a $98,000 operating loss. And not its first one. The Daily Herald reports that, “Golf course performance was the main reason the district’s revenue producing facilities, which include Independence Grove Forest Preserve and the Fox River marina, took in 43 percent less in 2008-09 than the year before.” (And down again from the year before that, etc.) Golf rounds are down 3%.

Yet, in this almost decade-long golf performance downward spiral, the LCFPD continues to try to find ways to move forward with a new golf course. But wait, its not the LCFPD that’s driving this train alone. Placing a hand on the wheel are the communities of Lake Forest, Highwood and Highland Park and their various political jurisdictions including both city government and park districts.

The County is convening a council of these invested parties to hash things out, find political cover, and maybe develop a creative solution. Let them talk. In the end, they will have to confront the flawed policy that (we understand) dictated land use be devoted to a specific sport in perpetuity.

Anyway, its time to clean up this mess and these errors. Let’s open the floor to entertaining thoughts regarding the proper use of this land consistent with the law that provided it. The only consideration required by this law was “to ensure the continued protection and enhancement of the open spaces of Fort Sheridan”  We should be able to do this without piling on to the operating losses already burdening the County revenue producing assets.

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2 thoughts on “Let County Deliberate Ft. Sheridan Golf Course. Then Make Right Choice

  1. The LCFPD operates the public parks and facilities as a public amenity financed by our taxes. Yet we still pay user fees for using picnic shelters, the swim beach at Independence Grove or the dog parks. The golf courses were established with the specific objective of being a revenue generator and NOT being supported by taxes. That is why they are financed from a self-funding Enterprise Fund. A fund, I might add, which could be depleted by revenue draining operations like Brae Loch which put the entire County golf program at risk! And that would be a terrible loss. All this is established by our elected Lake County Board and hence subject to the public’s will. If you want to change what is free and what has user fees, take it up with the Board.

    And just as a point of clarification, nobody is proposing the creation of a bird-watching park or, if you will, sanctuary. What is proposed is a mixed use open space that can be used by walkers, joggers, bicyclists, dog walkers, as well as those who wish to observe the flora and fauna similar to virtually all the other trails in the LCFPD system.

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  2. because any other Forest Preserve use of the land will make money? Doesn’t the FPD by definition lose money in operating public parks and facilities? Sure, they can offset some of those losses through fees etc., but putting in a bird-watching park isn’t going to be cash-flow-positive, either.

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