Here is a report on the Ft. Sheridan advisory committee’s first meeting. But first, and if you read no further, it is important you know how important your active involvement in this matter is. Many people, perhaps yourself, have made their sentiment known to the Lake County Forest Preserve Board through letters, emails, calls and attendance at time-sucking meetings. This activity is essential and must be sustained.
Tuesday, December 2 was the first meeting of the Fort Sheridan Master Plan advisory committee. Permit me to share my observations as well as commentary on the meeting held in the gym of Oak Terrace school in Highwood.
The meeting included about 15 people with some organizations represented by 2 people. There were about 60 audience members attending, largely from the Town of Fort Sheridan in support of the golf course, yet with a very rewarding turnout of those who have an interest in an alternative development strategy for the Fort Sheridan forest preserve property.
In the course of the meeting it became evident that there was little consensus and no apparent middle ground. Committee members staked out their positions and some attempts were made to develop a strategy for exploring options. Lake County staff and its golf industry consultant made brief presentations including introducing several specific options and answered questions. The discussion among the committee was civil but a little tense. After about 1.5 hours it was apparent this was going nowhere.
Ultimately, it was recommended that the advisory board might be more effective if an impartial facilitator was brought in to guide the discussion. Recognizing the impasse, this seemed to be the one point all could agree on. Lake County Board President Bonnie Carter indicated this action required a budget approval which the Board would consider at their January meeting. Subsequent to that approval & engagement of a facilitator, this committee would reconvene and make another effort. Meeting adjourned.
That, in a nutshell, is what happened. Essentially, nothing new.
Some of my thoughts:
What you can do:
What is evident is that this matter is going to proceed for a while as the advisory committee wends its way through the issues, makes a recommendation to the County Forest Preserve District Board (or fails to) and then the County Board must ultimately take action. It will not wrap up quickly and it will probably become more rancorous.
The great news here is that while we witness government in action (or might I say government inaction), the Fort Sheridan property has been graded and planted. Paths have been laid out. There is even a sign simply asking people to give the vegetation a chance to grow before they tromp all over it. In the short term, you and others will begin to enjoy public access to this great property. More people will be drawn to the preserve. An expectation will begin to develop that this is how the property should be developed and the formerly inaccessible field with its hills of soil and the dilapidated golf course that was here will become a receding memory.
The bad news is that this matter remains unresolved. This means that you must sustain your involvement and recruit others on the issue. The most important thing is to raise the visibility regarding the dispute so that we might grow our coalition and insure that our elected officials understand they will be held publicly and broadly accountable for the outcome. In a separate post I will detail specific actions that you might take.