I recently learned that the mayors of Highland Park and Highwood plan to meet with the Town of Fort Sheridan Homeowners Association on Sunday, January 10 to discuss the future of Fort Sheridan and the misguided plan for a golf course. I am thrilled to hear of this development. I give a lot of credit to both mayors for making this outreach. Cynically I would allow that the mayors are assessing just how much political capital they want to put at risk promoting a municipal golf course on behalf of this small group in the face of growing opposition from the rest of their communities and the devastating golf course financial projections. But I’ll put my cynicism aside long enough to applaud their democratic initiative. You go, guys.
Up till now, the voice of the Town of Fort Sheridan Homeowners Association has been a small handful of vocal people who have been adamant in their support of the golf course. Yet, I know a large number of homeowners who either do not support the golf course or do not understand the full scope of the Master Plan around which the golf course plans are framed. The meeting with the mayors, which has been widely promoted to the Town of Fort Sheridan residents, provides an opportunity for other voices to be heard.
I don’t know if the homeowners are dominantly for this golf course or if there is a large group who would be more than happy to implement a traditional forest preserve and leave the peaceful Parade Grounds unmolested. I would expect that both mayors understand the awkwardness of creating a forum where neighbors must confront neighbors and, whatever the outcome, only bad will can erupt. I am confident they will provide the homeowners a non-confrontational and anonymous manner to express their feelings as well as gathering sentiment at this meeting.
Also, given how aggressively both cities have promoted the golf course, I am confident that the Mayors will invite to this meeting some objective perspective. Certainly Lake County Forest Preserve District Executive Director Tom Hahn and the County’s golf course consultant are logical resources who should be available at this meeting to objectively address questions that might come up. There is so much emotion and speculation around this matter that providing access to people with the facts can only help to shape people’s position.
However, in the end, what the cities of Highland Park and Highwood and the homeowners of the Town of Fort Sheridan decide, it really doesn’t matter. This is a Lake County decision. For its part the Lake County Forest District Board, which is taking all kinds of grief from everyone on this issue, has tried to move forward with the broadest possible input. But their constituency is Lake County. And, in the end, building another county-run municipal golf course in Lake County is about the riskiest, costliest and most ridiculous step the County could take. And everyone knows it. Everyone.