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updated: 2/21/2012 6:17 PM

Fort Sheridan golf course splits candidates

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  • Ann Maine

      Ann Maine

  • Douglas Bennett

      Douglas Bennett

  • Robert Haraden

      Robert Haraden

 
 

The golf industry may not be interested, but what happens with property at Fort Sheridan remains an issue for the Lake County leaders.

Candidates running for the Republican nomination for the county board seat in District 21 vary on how to deal with the land that includes Lake Michigan frontage but also a deed restriction that calls for a golf course to remain.

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County board members double as forest preserve commissioners so the issue will be ongoing.

The race pits incumbent Ann Maine of Lincolnshire against political newcomers Robert Haraden, a dentist from unincorporated Libertyville, and computer consultant Douglas Bennett of Deerfield.

The forest district sent requests for proposals to privately fund, build and operate a 9-hole course to 905 recipients comprised of golf course builders, developers, contractors and management companies. No responses were received.

Maine, who is president of the forest preserve district, said no proposals means no project. She said she will recommend the district make a formal request to the U.S. Army to remove the deed restriction requiring a golf course.

"We have to look at our fiduciary responsibility for all our residents," she said. The course was not to be subsidized with taxpayer money, she added, and the district must live within its means.

While governments always are at risk of being sued, Maine said, the district has done its due diligence and has "thoroughly and extensively explored many options."

Haraden said the district has received "enormous" tax dollars from the surrounding Fort Sheridan community during the past 10 years. He maintained residents have complained but the district and county have done little in return.

He said the land should remain vacant or be leased for farming until the economy improves and there is a need for a course.

He suggested residents in the area vote on what should be done with the Fort Sheridan property.

"It really needs to be a voting process and see what the communities want," he said.

Maine said that was an unrealistic suggestion. While some may have bought homes there for a golf course, permanent open space is a valuable commodity for homeowners, she added.

Bennett said the covenant from the Army was straightforward and the Lake County government should keep its word.

"We took the land and we made a promise. Now it seems like we're trying to weasel out of the promise to the Army and people who live there," he said.

Bennett said the course that had been removed should be rebuilt and a tenant found to run it and cover maintenance expenses.

"I'd take the hit on it," he said. "It may not be the smartest thing to do with the land (but) it's important people know we keep our word."

He also said that if the acquired land was not worth maintaining as a golf course, it should be returned to the Army.

District 21 includes Bannockburn, Green Oaks, Lincolnshire, Mettawa and Riverwoods and portions of Deerfield, Gurnee, Lake Forest and Waukegan.

The winner in the March 20 primary will face Democrat Arlene Hickory, a retired nurse from Lake Bluff.

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