Fort Sheridan Golf Supporters Fudge the Financials

Backpackers explore the coveted Fort Sheridan bluff. Will this soon become the exclusive domain of golfers?

The Ft. Sheridan Master Plan Advisory Committee met on Wednesday, April 14 in their third session over the past five months.  After 2 remarkably useless meetings, Lake County’s independent facilitator, Susan Parks, pulled back hard on the joystick in an effort to prevent the crash and burn outcome which seemed inevitable for this committee.

Indeed, the overall tone of the meeting was, if not perhaps a little desperate, at least seriously focused on confronting the substantive issues required to make some decisions. It was a positive change, although I have to say, a negative outcome.

By insisting on achieving consensus, the advisory committee found itself corralled into considering a compromise option.  Labeled the “hybrid solution,” this consisted of a scaled down golf course of 9 – 12 holes with the remaining land devoted to a more natural preserve.  By meeting’s end, several assignments were made to County and municipal staff for more information. The next meeting will be held June 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Gorton Community Center, 400 E. Illinois Road, Lake Forest, Illinois.

Facilitator Parks also revealed a timeline for this exercise which calls for a recommendation being made in September.

Here is a little more information about why your involvement and awareness of this matter is so important.

1.       Inattentive public

The public response to this matter is muted. Of the approximately 120 individuals who have commented to the County in writing, the sentiment is evenly split.   Given national and international events, I am not surprised this esoteric issue is not getting widespread engagement. This only emphasizes how important  your individual attention is.

2.       Fun with numbers

The supporters of the golf course positioned the golf course financials as being not so bad.

As a business person who has operated his own businesses for several decades. I know how to read financial statements.  I swear that the financial statements of the golf courses run by the municipalities reflect desperation.  These courses are tanking. It is not just about the economy. But from the meeting discussion you would think this is not an issue when, in fact, it is THE issue.

I am very concerned the golf course supporters are now trying to spin these financials into something other than what would be considered generally accepted  accounting principles (GAAP). We have seen way too much of this on Wall Street and I’d hate to see it take place on Main Street.  Only your active diligence can prevent this from happening.

3.       Kill the messenger

Lake County’s golf course marketing consultant has presented objective and factual information about viability of any kind of golf course at Fort Sheridan.  The data does not support any kind of Fort Sheridan Golf Course. Essentially, there are inadequate rounds of golf being played to support more public courses let alone the ones that already exist.

In response to this message, the golf course supporters want the County to fire the consultant. In a nutshell, they wish to hire somebody who will support their position rather than being objective and impartial.

If you want to be energized by this issue I encourage you to get out to Fort Sheridan during these fine spring days and appreciate what a spectacular natural resource this is. If golf is offered here, I am confident that Lake County residents will subsidize every round played as well as compounding the desperate finances of all surrounding municipal courses.

If you care about this matter, please contact your Lake County Commissioner with a phone call. If you have not already done so, send an email to fort@lcfpd.org

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