About this Blog

This Blog

This blog is a forum for information related to the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve. Your comments are welcome and encouraged.

This blog is not affiliated with the Lake County Forest Preserve District (except, of course, as taxpayers!)

I Am

My name is Sonny Cohen and I am this blog’s publisher.  I have a deep interest in issues related to this region where I have lived most of my life. What is captivating my attention are the land use issues at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, part of the Lake County Forest Preserve District.

I have a background in land use planning, public policy and environmental issues. I have a Masters in Regional Planning from the University of Michigan. My undergraduate degree is in engineering. I have worked for the City of Ann Arbor and the elected Drain Commissioner of Washtenaw County, Michigan. I  directed the stormwater management policy program for the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission in Columbus, Ohio. I left public service to start my own business. But I never left the public policy issues associated with land use, fiscal integrity and the environment.

Today, I am on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Audubon Society, a land trust dedicated to both conservation and habitat preservation.  I watch birds. So I am attuned to the enhancement as well as destruction of habitat locally, regionally and globally.

My Involvement

I care about rainforest destruction and overfishing of the seas. Don’t we all? I wring my hands over the loss of habitat for the Spotted Owl. But Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve is my backyard and playground. And I pay taxes to the Lake County Forest Preserve District and vote on their bond referenda. So this is public policy that I can directly influence and bring to it my policy knowledge and land use management skills. This blog is part of my effort to be involved and influence the outcome.

Your Involvement

Please feel free to provide your comments and perspective whether or not you agree with me.   Unless you are uncivil, ill-mannered or simply off-topic, your input is welcome.

You are also encouraged to visit and join our Facebook page as well as following us on Twitter.

6 thoughts on “About this Blog

  1. I love these discussions. Open Lands, fort Sheridan, and the military housing area (ran by civilian company) all spray chemicals to manage those area. Yes, even open lands. They spray to kill invasive plants instead of digging them up, they put down plantings with chemicals on them, and drained two small ponds near their new trail killing aquatic life growing in them. I have no interest in your golf course vs preserve land, as far as living at fort Sheridan. I am military and wanted to stop chemical spray in military housing. Talked to open lands to get info about spraying near water source, then I see guys with backpacks spraying chems even closer to water source a couple weeks later- to kill poison ivy. I also have taken photos of some kind of red run off going into lake Michigan from a culvert. So if this place is going to be environmentally sound then all issues need addresses, not just golf course.

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  2. “Those of us who seek it to be restored as a golf course are only asking that it be put back to what it was 5 years ago.”

    Well, actually, those who are seeking it to be restored are seeking an 18 whole first class golf course. Nobody is seeking to have it restored in the state it was at the time it was acquired from the US Army. This is what is discussed in Lake County’s consultant reports found on the Lake County Forest Preserve District’s website, http://www.lcfpd.org/preserves/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.view&object_id=163&type=SF.

    The principle argument regarding the golf course is entirely irrelevant to whether the golf course is portrayed as an “evil development.” There is no merit pitting tree huggers against golfers. We should celebrate each other and often we are one and the same.

    The matter is driven by the economics which make the golf course a financial debacle. It is a train wreck that threatens the continued operation of the other County golf courses by draining the enterprise fund that finances operations.

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  3. Not exactly the same. This piece of land was a publicly owned and operated golf course up until 5 years ago when the horrible management of the Lake County Forest Preserve District actually destroyed it before having a contract to “improve” the course in hand.

    This issue does not fit into your pre-molded story of “developers” vs. nature. This was in fact a low-cost, beautiful golf course that the local government completely screwed up.

    Those of us who seek it to be restored as a golf course are only asking that it be put back to what it was 5 years ago. We’re not trying to bulldoze wilderness here.

    People who don’t want the golf course should try using more accurate information and not portraying this as an “evil” development. I am a golfer and a naturalist, and I resent the way that some of you have framed this argument.

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  4. Hello –
    I was googling for a little information on golf in northern Illinois – and came upon your website.

    I am involved in a huge fight over building a golf course along Lake Michigan on the other side of the lake. I glanced through your site and will try to read more later. It appears that the theme is the same no matter what it’s called locally: real estate developers want public land and public money to sustain their speculative developments – and spineless or compromised (or both) politicians just go along for the ride and sell out the public interest every time – unless there is a stout and determined backlash – and try mounting one of those in this stressed out, overloaded world.

    I know the Ft. Sheridan area well – can’t believe there’s any economic hardship in Highland Park or Highwood. How’d they ever pull this off?

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    1. Hi. I am a homeowner in Fort Sheridan where I have lived for 16 years. I know it is surprising to think of economic hardship in the Fort Sheridan area, but that is exactly what has occurred to many, many people in the Fort who are now significantly under water, in short sales and foreclosures. If you don’t believe me, just do a little bit of research online. Many of the residents are retirees. All of these same residents were promised a golf course when they bought here (and when one that already existed was closed with the promise to build a new one).

      At the time, the estimate loss of home value, per home, was $100,000. The numbers bear this out, especially people who bought on the course itself and in Highwood. I wonder how you might feel if you lost that much value in your home because of a promise reneged.

      I am also an environmentalist and birder, and I am NOT a golfer. A small sustainable golf course and environmental stewardship are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the development has a great deal of runoff now into Lake Michigan. THe proper redevelopment of the golf course could actually improve that, rather than making it worse. See this Forbes article for details about how some of the most enviornmentally freindly courses have eliminated runoff: http://www.forbes.com/sites/forbestravelguide/2012/08/01/top-eco-friendly-golf-courses/#379b4d8f4f7c

      We residents of Fort Sheridan each paid for our homes with the golf course valued in the price. Lake County does not even maintain the historic, military parade ground. It is instead a dandelion nursery. Nobody is looking to make a profit, but we can’t even sell our homes. People are suffering – especially people on fixed incomes. I wish people from outside would not be so quick to judge the situation without more knowledge of the facts.

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      1. Alison, Thank you for your heartfelt comments. You responded to Julie Weiss’ comments that were made 7 years ago. At that time, there was a major battle happening in then and now very economically disadvantaged Benton Harbor, Michigan. The details are addressed here. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jean_Klock_Park. The circumstances were very different and highlights the difference between hardship as you genuinely feel it and hardship among a very destitute community and the potential loss of their community park. Julie Weiss, who wrote the letter herein, was very involved in this issue.

        Regarding golf and your home ownership, I can share with you that you and thousands of others across the country have been disappointed by the closing of golf courses across the country as rounds of golf played dropped to a point to make many golf courses no longer financially sustainable. Many municipal promises were broken and many private properties simply went bankrupt as people’s recreation habits have changed.

        As far as home values are concerned. It has been demonstrated that the value of your home and property is mostly connected to the adjacent open space and not necessarily to the use of that open space (golf course). You, as a non-golfer, are a clear case in point. Here is some data and a blog post to support that position: https://fortsheridanforestpreserve.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/big-property-value-lie/.

        Thanks for writing and sharing your views.

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