Mayor Charlie Pecaro of Highwood apparently doesn’t get out much. Or if he does get out, he doesn’t get over to the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve. To hear Charlie tell it, only golfers will patronize the bars and restaurants that drive the Highwood economy. The rest of the riff raff that might drop a farthing into Highwood’s service-oriented collection cup are not worth the bother. So let’s help Charlie deconstruct his perception and maybe even enlighten him.
First, one of the biggest problems at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve today is parking. On almost any given weekend day RAIN or SHINE, the parking lot is packed with people who are clamoring for access to visit the model Hawk’s nest, the prairie paths and, of course, the marvelous lakefront. And in the spring, when the Forest Preserve opens the paths in the emerging meadow, well, we just might need a parking garage. In fact, hundreds of people are visiting Fort Sheridan. But Charlie doesn’t see them because they’re not carrying golf clubs.
Second, golf is pretty much a summer sport. And apparently, in Charlie’s estimation, the only time he wants to get business from this crowd is in the summer. Clearly, those who might X-country ski, bike or hike year round at Fort Sheridan are not welcome or just not expected in Highwood because golfers, well, you know, their wallets bulge. I mean really Charlie, doesn’t it make sense to have an attraction that will draw the crowds year round?
In spring, a bird watching club attracted over 80 people to an introductory bird watching adventure at Fort Sheridan. At the end of the event, many went to breakfast – in Highwood. Recently a photography group chose Fort Sheridan as their subject matter. After their shoot, they convened for lunch – in Highwood. And those are just the anecdotes we know. How many more people make the Fort Sheridan – Highwood connection?
The County golf consultants believe that a golf course at Fort Sheridan might generate around 13,000+ rounds of golf in a year. Charlie must believe that is huge. We think it is chump change. Develop this property as the forest preserve we believe it can be and we’ll see your 13,000 and raise you by 50%+. Fix your attitude Charlie and we’ll help shovel more than guano into Highwood’s economy. Keep your attitude and your bad will might spread.