The Lake County Forest Board met to consider a proposal to privatize their golf course commitment at Fort Sheridan. Even if operated privately, with no economic benefit or cost to Lake County, ample evidence demonstrated a new course would increase the economic hardship of all neighboring courses. In fact, competing at the same price point as the existing courses accentuates the damage. And, ironically, the more successful this course is, the greater the adverse impact on the existing municipal golf courses – all of which are struggling with negative financial performance.
In spite of this information, the Board voted to solicit bids to develop the golf course. Three people spoke at this meeting who were not part of the Board including the City of Highland Park’s legal mouthpiece, a resident of the adjacent subdivision and myself. The entire meeting (about 35 minutes) can be watched on video. But here is what I said:
“First, thank you for the transparency and open communication in the discussions about Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve’s future. Many of us have attended the public meetings and open house, read the many documents and minutes, watched the meeting videos. We have written hundreds of letters and emails to you. I have written 60 blog posts, published 12 videos on YouTube. Over two hundred people have joined the Stop Golf at Fort Sheridan Facebook page.
This hasn’t been fun. Commissioner Calabresa said in her advisory committee summary, “this has been a horrendous experience for all of us.”
We have worked very hard to try to put lipstick on this pig. Honorable, we all understand. But not practical.
We don’t need another golf course. In their summaries during the subcommittee meeting, Commissioner Bassi, said, QUOTE “We don’t need another golf course.” Commissioner Feldman said quote, “This is a bad business idea.” And this is from the people who support the option before you.
When the public was invited to provide input on option A,B or C, the option they selected by an overwhelming majority was D –None of the above. Give us a traditional forest preserve. But this option wasn’t even entertained by the sub-committee. It was never on the table.
We can’t afford this.
Have a private company build design and operate a golf course is your cost free solution?
Who are you kidding?
Your golf marketing consultant has given you a chart showing that the more successful your course is, the more devastating it is to its neighbors.
Sandra Hart on the advisory committee from Lake Bluff park district said (quote) “ The potential revenue loss to Lake Bluffs program would be devastating.”
Lake Forest Mayor James Cowhey made a guest appearance at the advisory committee and said, “Please don’t build a 9-hole course that will compete with our course.”
Lake Forest City Manager, Robert Kiely said, “We can’t endorse something that will kill our course.”
No government should feel compelled to honor public policy that no longer makes sense. Your solution is not cost free. It is painful. It is disruptive. It is bad citizenship to your municipal neighbors.
You have only one option. That is to renegotiate the land use agreement in light of today’s financial circumstances. Anything else is disrespectful to your constituents and financially irresponsible.”