U.S. Army will not force golf course upon Fort Sheridan
Updated: June 11, 2012 8:59PM
The U.S. Army will not compel the Lake County Forest Preserve District to build and operate a golf course at the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve, according to a letter from a top Army official.
Highwood Mayor Charlie Pecaro recently sent a letter to Secretary of the Army John McHugh on behalf of the city of Highwood asking that the Army not remove the original deed restriction, which required the property be maintained as a golf course and recreational open space “in perpetuity.”
“Although the economics for a golf course may be challenging now, it is our firm belief that this will change in time,” Pecaro wrote.
The Army responded that it was aware of the Lake County Forest Preserve’s recent resolution asking a golf course be removed from the deed restriction and did not feel the need to take any further action on the issue.
“In our view, the current lack of use as a golf course does not form a sufficient basis for the Army to preclude that potential use in the future. But the Army also does not have the authority to compel the Lake County Forest Preserve District to develop and operate a golf course,” said Paul Cramer, acting deputy assistant secretary of the Army, in a letter to Pecaro.
Forest Preserve Executive Director Tom Hahn said the Army’s letter suggests that it will leave future decisions regarding use of the Fort Sheridan property to the forest preserve district.
“I think it’s a clear statement from the Army that if there is a golf course or recreational open space on the property, it’s in keeping with the deed restriction,” he said.
Pecaro could not be reached for comment regarding the Army’s letter. Highwood and Highland Park have long supported a golf course at Fort Sheridan, citing terms of the original agreements when the property was deeded from the Army to the forest preserve district from 1998 to 2001.
The district originally proposed building an 18-hole golf course on the site and then later proposed a nine-hole hybrid golf course intermixed with public trails and open space. The forest preserve board ultimately concluded a golf course at Fort Sheridan was no longer financially viable and in March the board requested the Army lift the golf course deed requirement.
Highland Park City Councilman Steve Mandel said the forest preserve district received the Fort Sheridan property for free from the Army with the provision that a golf course would be maintained at the site.
“We continue to believe that if they want something besides a golf course that they need to provide consideration to the residents of the Town of Fort Sheridan, Highland Park, Highwood and Lake Forest,” he said. “The city of Highland Park is clearly against a unilateral removal of that covenant (by the forest preserve district).”
The forest preserve district will hold a public open house on Tuesday, June 12, from 4 to 8 p.m., at the Midwest Young Artists Center, 878 Lyster Road, at Fort Sheridan. The purpose will be to solicit input from residents on potential future uses for the Fort Sheridan preserve, such as public trails and other recreational amenities. A golf course is no longer being considered as an option by the district.