The candidates running for the Lake County Board's 15th District seat have very different visions for the future of the Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve.
Republican incumbent Carol Calabresa believes preserving the 250-acre site's natural resources should be a priority.
Contact information ( * required )
Democratic challenger Del Parra would like to see a dog park and an artistic or educational pavilion added to the land, which is along Lake Michigan near Highland Park.
The Lake County Board doubles as the Lake County Forest Preserve District Board, with commissioners serving in both roles.
This year, the boards will shrink from 23 to 21 members.
The 15th District includes Libertyville and part of the Mundelein area. Calabresa and Parra, both of Libertyville, are facing off for a 4-year term.
Earlier this year, the forest preserve board officially abandoned a decade-old plan to build a new golf course at Fort Sheridan. The site, part of a former Army base, includes trails, green space and educational attractions.
Calabresa and Parra talked about Fort Sheridan in Daily Herald questionnaires.
Calabresa, a county commissioner since 1986, said the forest board should make restoring and enhancing the natural resources of the preserve a priority there.
That includes creating habitat for threatened and endangered species and protecting space for migratory birds, she said.
As for human visitors, officials should improve access to the beach and lake, Calabresa said.
Calabresa also wants to honor the site's military history.
"For historic preservation and protection of the parade ground vistas and landscape views, I would prefer to leave them as open space honoring the veterans and medical personnel who worked on these grounds," she said.
Parra, the director of the Diamond Lake School District 76 family resource center, shared much grander plans for Fort Sheridan.
He'd like to see a park built that would be similar to the public attractions at the popular Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville.
"Lake County residents could experience the beauty of the lakefront by walking on trails that would include a designated dog park, a pavilion with an art (and) visitors center and a classroom for instruction highlighting the history of Fort Sheridan," said Parra, who has twice before run against Calabresa, losing both times.
Parra went on to criticize the forest board and the builders of the neighboring Town of Fort Sheridan for promises made to would-be homeowners about a golf course.