After three years of tortuous deliberation the Lake County Forest Preserve District, finally agreed to seek removal of the requirement of a golf course at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve by a nearly consensual 20-1 vote.
When the moment came, the vote was predictable in its majority if not its unanimity. But what was less predictable was Highland Park’s continued and active opposition to the will of the county as well as that of most of the people in the county and Highland Park. It is a city council gone rogue and out of step with its public.
Highland Park has two golf courses. With one owned by the City and the other by the Park District, the extent of its financial calamity is muted. Each is losing money. This year the city will shovel a portion of our general operating fund tax dollars into its golf course fund so that bills can be paid. Every time someone tees up on a municipal golf course in Highland Park, the public chips in $25 toward those green fees. With other municipal needs unfunded and deferred, that’s pretty nice of us to allocate scarce resources to golf.
The City is supposed to unload its financial sinkhole of a golf course onto the Park District by January 1, 2014. Wisely, in this municipal version of “hot potato” the Park District may not take it. It is an option they have. Which is why it is curious for the City to aggressively be supporting building yet another municipal golf course. If I were the Park District I wouldn’t take this liability knowing more competition was on its way.
When the county held its vote, acting Highland Park City Manager Patrick Brennan told a united Forest Board that, essentially, they were wrong. What he said exactly was, “it would be our preference that we work cooperatively together to find some resolution to this matter rather than going forward on opposite positions and governmental bodies working against each other.” A not so veiled threat if there ever was one.
Based on its landslide vote, the Forest Board now turns to the Army with whom it holds the agreement to remove the golf course requirement.
What we don’t need is a meddling municipality with its own desperate golf course troubles to interfere.