Consensus Elusive on Fort Sheridan

The second meeting of the Fort Sheridan Master Plan Advisory Committee is history and it is probably fair to say that the group has not moved any closer to consensus regarding the land use.  For those of us who have been watching this slow moving train wreck, this is not a surprise because there is no consensus to be had. The responsibility for making a decision rests with the Lake County Forest Preserve Board and they will soon have to face the music and vote.

It would be my hope to look back on this blog post and note how short-sighted and pessimistic I was. But I don’t think that will be the case.  As long as there is a group of people who want to build a golf course on this property at tax payer expense and a group of people who do not believe a golf course is economically feasible, there will be no consensus.

Nice Try

This apparent failure is not due to the lack of effort exerted, once again, by good people. The 21 attendees on this advisory committee include the mayors of the surrounding communities as well as Lake County board members representing the region where the Fort Sheridan Preserve is located. After the first meeting proved to be deadlocked, the County hired a facilitator to help advance the discussion. Using her best facilitator-speak Susan Parks soldiered on throughout the evening attempting to bring her “process point of view” to uncover “areas of agreement.”

Unfortunately, what the committee members couldn’t even agree on was whether all who were on the committee even belonged there.  Highland Park’s Mayor Belsky and Highwood’s Mayor Pecaro summarily dismissed both the Park Districts of Highland Park and Lake Bluff saying, “They don’t belong here” because they weren’t part of the original (1995?) Joint Planning Committee. Challenged that the homeowner’s association from the Town of Fort Sheridan development weren’t on this Joint Planning Committee either, Mayor Belsky dismissed this noting, “they didn’t exist then.”  I’m not sure this point is valid. But then I have concerns about this homeowners group having their own representation in addition to their representation by their respective municipalities and park districts. Seems to be an inconvenient violation of that old one-man-one-vote thing. But then this is an advisory committee.

When the committee wasn’t debating who should be on the committee, they turned their attention to defining what the word “county” meant.  The multiple choice options included a) the Lake County municipal government, b) the people who live in Lake County or c) the multiple municipal jurisdictions within the County, d) none of the above, e) all of the above, f) a state of mind, g) subject to individual interpretation.

Off Off Broadway Theater

Needless to say, for  the 60+ interested citizens observing this facilitated meeting, this was not high drama.  Facilitated into silence by the meeting facilitator, the engaged onlookers were reduced to periodically shouting “Can’t hear!”, muttering, “I don’t know what’s going on” and Tweeting their opinions into a largely oblivious Twitterverse. By the end of the meeting, the women next to me had nodded off then woke and left, golf advocates were leaving for, apparently, tee time and some guy was loudly updating us on the Hawkeye smack down of the Wildcats (final 78 -65) whether we cared or not.

Search for Consensus Coming to a Town Near You

Even if you’ve missed the first couple meetings, the participants have agreed to continue their Search for Consensus on Wednesday, April 17 14., 2010 We’re sure in the next 60 days there will be some additional consensus-related conversation and facilitation going on. Or maybe they’ll continue debating the definition of “county.”  We’re looking forward to the next installment.

Thanks

The Gorton Community Center was a great venue for this meeting. Thanks to Lake County Forest Preserve District for arranging a nearby location for this public event. Fortunately or not, we still need more space. This matter is gaining increasing attention.

Follow Fort Sheridan Twitter Feeds:  http://www.Twitter.com/FortSheridan (read from bottom up)

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