In the heated emotional discussions that surround the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve and the proposed golf course, sometimes the facts are misunderstood or simply not known. One of those facts is the circumstance that conveyed the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve property from the US Government to the Lake County Forest Preserve District. The fact is that the land transfer literally took an Act of Congress. That Act is known as the Military Construction Appropriations Act of 1996.
Some would have us actually believe that this Act of Congress dictated the existence of a golf course. Even the City of Highland Park mistakenly adopted a policy claiming, “that a high quality golf course should be built at the Fort Sheridan Historic District per the federally mandated covenant which governs this policy.” But there is NO federally mandated covenant that requires a golf course.
Here, then is exactly the pertinent language from the law that the US Congress passed. Here is the federal mandate:
Military Construction Appropriations Act of 1996
SEC. 125. (a) In order to ensure the continued protection and enhancement of the open spaces of Fort Sheridan, the Secretary of the Army shall convey to the Lake County Forest Preserve District, Illinois (in this section referred to as the ‘‘District’’), all right, title, and interest of the United States to a parcel of surplus real property at Fort Sheridan consisting of approximately 290 acres located north of the southerly boundary line of the historic district at the post, including improvements thereon.
(b) As consideration for the conveyance by the Secretary of the Army of the parcel of real property under subsection (a), the District shall provide maintenance and care to the remaining Fort Sheridan cemetery, pursuant to an agreement to be entered into between the District and the Secretary.
There you have it. The US Government stipulated only that the Lake County Forest Preserve take care of the cemetery. And they have. About that there is no discussion. And the golf course? Nothing. Nada. Anybody who says otherwise is lying or disingenuous – or both.
So how did a golf course get into this picture? We’ll take a look at the facts. Next.