Take a step back from the current controversy and observe the hypocrisy of the Forest Board regarding the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve.
The picture at right is the plan originally proposed by the Lake County Forest Preserve for a 100 car parking lot and clubhouse on the bluff. It was ok then. Today, not ok.
No Trees. Approved.
The existing and approved Master Plan for Fort Sheridan calls for a golf course. This golf course would have taken over the entire greater expanse of the area we now call the grassland. It would have also spilled over to the Parade Ground with 4 golf holes surrounded by residences. Planting trees? Not on these fairways. That’s the plan. But wait, there’s more.
Club House on the Bluff. Approved.
This wasn’t going to be just some 3 par golf course to knock the ball around. This was going to be a Championship Golf Course with a Club House – on the Bluff overlooking that Great Lake. This was going to be Big Time with Golf Outings and maybe even Professional Tournaments. And, until golf revenues went south, this was the Plan. It was approved by your Lake County Forest Preserve. They were ALL IN.
100 Car Parking Lot. Approved.
A shot-gun start at a Championship Golf Course would put 18 foursomes on the course. That’s 72 people playing golf. Plus caddys and Club House Staff. And every 15 minutes a new foursome Tees off. Popular every spring, summer and fall weekend, that parking lot adjacent to the Club House on the Bluff of Lake Michigan would have to hold what? 125 cars? 150 cars? Probably. And the County approved this. They were ALL IN.
Street Parking? Approved.
And when the Tournaments were held, in addition to all the celebrities, there would be the spectators. And where would they park? They’d park along Leonard Drive and anywhere else they could squeeze a car. And the residents of the Town of Fort Sheridan subdivision were ALL IN with this plan.
Fast forward to today and what do we have? That same Forest Board that was prepared to surrender the Preserve to a golf course and surrender the Lake Michigan bluff to a club house and build a large parking lot wants to reduce parking to just 20 cars near the bluff. Board president Ann Maine worries that we will suffocate this Preserve with overuse when, in fact, the County was prepared to plow it into sand traps and plant water-demanding turf grass instead of self-sustaining indigenous prairie grasses. Talk about suffocating!
Hypocritical Public Policy
So I just want it to be noted that what was already approved and acceptable is now not acceptable. And the only thing that has changed is that instead of making a lot of money running a golf course, which the Lake County Forest Preserve was perfectly happy to do, they have to provide public access and basic sanitary services. And for that they are balking. Just say no to toilets.
Golf on the “historic” Parade Ground? Approved.
And one more footnote to this rant. I have always been less concerned about the Parade Ground section of the Forest Preserve. I sincerely believe that the residents of the Town of Fort Sheridan subdivision have a strong investment in both the maintenance and appearance of this property that is circumscribed by their homes and their wishes in this area should be respected. But at one point this, too, was going to be part of the golf course.
Today there are modest plans to reduce grass cutting by planting trees and shrubs at the edges of the Parade Ground. When I inquired about why the entire Parade Ground couldn’t be landscaped for more economical maintenance I was told, with a straight face, that the County wants to “respect the historic nature of the Parade Ground.” Really? What about that Championship Golf Course for which they were prepared to completely plow up the Parade Ground? Oh, that.
So when the LCFPD says that the proposed Master Plan is to prevent us from destroying the Fort Sheridan habitat you really have to ask, but isn’t that what THEY were planning to do with their misbegotten golf course? Evidently what was OK then, is not OK now. Hypocrisy.