I learned today that the Lake County Forest Preserves Board received no responses to its published request for proposal (RFP) to fund, construct and operate a 9-hole golf course at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve.
You may be aware the Forest Board voted to go forward with requesting bids from private developers to develop this golf course as the best and possibly only chance to have a golf course at Fort Sheridan. These bids were due last Friday, January 6. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed shortly after the bids were due I received a response indicating, “The District did not receive any responses to the referenced RFP.”
What’s Next? Is the Golf Course Dead?
The matter is in the hands of the Forest Board. At an upcoming meeting they will be presented with the results of the solicitation for proposals. They are tasked with determining next steps.
In the last two and a half years of public controversy this issue has been explored from all angles. There has never been a wellspring of public support for a golf course. Neighboring communities are financially struggling with their own existing golf facilities. Even public officials who supported the golf course development also stated, paradoxically, that there was no need for another municipal course. The Forest Preserve Board has wisely backed away from publicly subsidizing what reports have indicated would be a money loser. But a land deed restriction as well as a promise to the original homeowners in the Town of Fort Sheridan subdivision have kept this issue alive.
We have now gone to the mat. The results are in. Prospective golf course operators and developers have declined to bid. They have determined there are greener fairways elsewhere.
At the same time with minimal land management, Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is thriving as a recreational hot spot with a jammed parking lot and scores of people romping around the bluffs, the oak savanna and the lakefront. Rare and endangered bird species have been seen taking refuge in the new grassland growth.
The Forest Board will determine its next steps. But it is pretty clear in which direction they should be taken.