Tag Archives: fort sheridan forest preserve

Pre-Construction Engineering to Begin at Fort Sheridan

An engineering services contract will be let to prepare bidding and contract documents for implementation of the Public Access Improvements as part of the Fort Sheridan Master Plan.  The contract requires committee and board approval. The Planning Committee will consider this matter at its June 6, 2016 meeting.

It is important to note this is for the engineering services and not for the actual implementation and restoration work.

BACKGROUND:

The Fort Sheridan Master Plan was approved by the Board on November 10, 2015. As part of the Plan approval, the Board directed staff to proceed with the implementation of all public access and restoration work north of the Parade Grounds. The public access portion of the work includes improvements and reconfiguration of the existing access drive, a new paved 45-car parking lot with an evaporator toilet, trailhead improvements at the north parking lot with an evaporator toilet, 0.7 miles of new asphalt trail, improvements to the existing 1.8 mile grass trail, removal of the remaining section of George Bell Road, accessibility improvements to the existing Hutchinson Trail, five new timber boardwalks/bridges, and two scenic overlooks.

The engineering services contract will provide land surveying, wetland delineation, data collection, subsurface drainage inventory, permitting and agency coordination, design, engineering, geotechnical investigation, hydrologic/hydraulic analysis, and preparation of bidding and contract documents. Engineering work is scheduled to begin in July 2016 with completion anticipated in January 2017.

FINANCIAL DATA:

This project was approved as part of the adopted FY2015/2016 Capital Improvement Plan in the amount of $2,943,146.00. This portion of the project (engineering services) was estimated at $262,228.00. The actual cost is $220,765.00

Open Letter to Lake County Forest Preserve Planning Committee

Following is  a letter I sent to each member of the Lake County Forest Preserve District (LCFPD) Planning and Restoration Committee. I strongly encourage you to express your concerns as well. I have provided contact information at the end of this letter.

Dear <Planning & Restoration Committee Board Member>,

On Monday, 8/31 your Planning & Restoration Committee agenda item 8.2 is “Recommend

approval of Revised Concept Plan for Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, and permission to proceed with preparation of Final Master Plan.”

On behalf of the hundreds of people who have voiced their comments on the outcome of this matter, I am requesting that no vote is taken on this item at this meeting on Monday.

My understanding is that you have not seen the Revised Concept Plan. Requests to see this Revised Concept Plan by Lake County residents as well as by the media have been denied.

The LCFPD has gone to great lengths to study the usage of the Fort Sheridan Preserve and

Over 500 people expressed their views on the Fort Sheridan Master Plan Concept Plans
Over 500 people expressed their views on the Fort Sheridan Master Plan Concept Plans

obtain public sentiment. Certainly you should receive a briefing on the findings of the usage studies as well as an understanding of what has been revised in the Revised Concept Plan.  However, moving forward with a vote without due deliberation, thoughtfulness and respect for your invested constituency is not the best practice of a representative government.

As you well know from the over 500 comments compiled by LCFPD from open houses, email, letters, and Idea Exchange public sentiment ran over 2:1 against either Concept Plan A or Concept Plan B. Even taking Plans A & B together, public sentiment ran 3:2 against these options versus the citizen-authored Plan C.

It is a tribute to the value your constituents place on their Forest Preserves and Fort Sheridan in particular to have such a high level of public engagement.  We are your donors, beach cleaners, volunteers, nature field trip leaders and, of course, taxpayers. All we ask is that your deliberations are thoughtful, unhurried and representative of your public.

The irony is that this property, carrying the historic title of “Fort,” has been a battleground of sorts for such a long time. We ask that you be the statesman and be responsive and inclusive in recommending a plan for the future of Fort Sheridan Preserve.

This letter was sent, individually to the following committee members. I encourage you to do the same BEFORE 8/31. Thank you.

Board members of the Lake County Forest Preserve District Planning & Restoration Committee

Bonnie Thompson Carter – Chair    BCarter@lakecountyil.gov
Nick Sauer – Vice Chair                   NSauer@lakecountyil.gov
Carol Calabresa                              CCalabresa@lakecountyil.gov
Bill Durkin                                        BDurkin@lakecountyil.gov
Sandra Hart                                     smhart@lakecountyil.gov
Diane Hewitt                                    DHewitt@lakecountyil.gov
Sid Mathias                                      smathias@lakecountyil.gov
Craig Taylor                                      CTaylor@lakecountyil.gov
Tom Weber                                       TWeber@lakecountyil.gov

The “Mysterious” Revised Concept Plan for Fort Sheridan

Active older adultsOn Monday, August 31 the Lake County Forest Board planning committee will be asked to approve a Revised Concept Plan for Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve. The agenda item reads:

“Recommend approval of Revised Concept Plan for Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, and permission to proceed with preparation of Final Master Plan”

There’s only one problem. What is the Revised Concept Plan?

  • Has anyone seen it?
  • Will the committee receive both a presentation AND be asked to vote on the same day?
  • In spite of the hot contention of this issue, is the public completely shut out from either viewing or commenting on this plan BEFORE it is voted on?
  • Is this really the way we want our government to function?

It is both unfortunate and sad when our government plays a cat and mouse game on issues of concern and interest to the public. This has been the history of the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve Master Plan process:

  • Failure to engage the public prior to purchasing 2900 trees.
  • Failure to have an approved plan in place prior to purchasing trees or engaging a contractor to plant the trees.
  • Failure to engage the public prior to developing  two unpopular plan options
  • Aggressively discouraging public presentation of an alternative plan
  • Failure to distribute the Revised Concept Plan before a vote on it

Whew. I guess we get the government we deserve. If this is ok with you, that is. It is not ok with me.

The Revised Concept Plan will be considered at the meeting of the Planning & Restoration Committee on Monday 8/31 at 1:30. The committee meets at Lake County Forest Preserve HQ at 1899 W. Winchester Road in Libertyville.

You can see the  Agenda – Planning and Restoration Committee here (click to download).

And you can see the proposed recommended committee action & background study they conducted over the summer here (click to download).

But you cannot see the Revised Concept Plan. It is a Mystery.

Video: Forest Preserve Intimidates, Threatens Arrest at Open House

Our group attended the LCFPD Fort Sheridan Open House at which we were physically blocked from entering the Open House, harassed &  intimidated and threatened with arrest and removal. We just wanted to provide the input they solicited. Watch the video of the entire episode.

These Are the Plan Options. These are the Only Plan Options.

It would appear that the Lake County Forest Preserve District under the direction of President Ann Maine has plans for the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve. And it doesn’t matter a damn what anybody thinks. Don’t kid yourself. They are absolutely committed to forcing their poorly conceived plans, called Concept A and Concept B on the public regardless of public sentiment. And the only public sentiment they want to hear is that which is legally required and nothing more.

We Really Don’t Want Your Stinkin Feedback

The Forest Preserve held a public open house on April 8. My invitation from Executive Director Ty Kovach told me that I was “invited to an Open House to learn about improvement plans for the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve and to provide feedback regarding the plans.” With the intent of providing constructive and effective feedback, our group thoughtfully prepared a comprehensive set of alternative options highlighting what we felt the County-sponsored plans were lacking. We spent hours talking to environmental experts. We talked to people who visited the Preserve. We assembled maps, a fact sheet and other documents to make our case and to share with others at this open house. And then we showed up at the Open House to share what we had learned.

“No Other Plans Allowed”

When we arrived with our material, we were all but tackled at the door by LCFPD staff. Our path was blocked. Our map was grabbed. We were told that “no other concept plans were allowed in the building.”  We pushed through this nonsense. Immediately the LCFPD Chief of Police was on us telling us to take our material out of the Open House.  I asked the Chief, “I cannot present my plans? And the Chief responded “You cannot.” In the course of further discussion the Chief threatened to call the Highwood police and have me removed from the Open House. Some Open House.

Stay Out of Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve

Incongruous as it seems, LCFPD does not want people to come to the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve. They don’t want people to walk along the magnificent bluff. They don’t want people on the Lakeshore. In a direct quote from a top staffer, “Go to Illinois State Beach if you want to see Lake Michigan.” Really?

Just Say No to the Forest Preserve

Reject the LCFPD thoughtless Concept Plans. Reject their “not welcome here” attitude. We have a better idea. We call it Plan C. As soon as we recover from the trauma of the Open House we’ll share it with you.

Voice Your Opinion

Please tell the Forest Preserve that you want public access at Fort Sheridan. Tell them that you want to preserve the successful grassland prairie. Do it now and do it here.