DuPage County Forest Preserve officials have launched a potential $19.3 million improvement plan for Oak Meadows Golf Club in Addison.
The district voted to pay about $95,000 to Martin Design Partnership Ltd. of Batavia to focus on the second phase of the plan. In April, the district paid the firm roughly $63,000 to design the first phase of the master plan to ease flooding and improve ecology at the 288-acre course.
That resulted in the $19.3 million estimate to upgrade the course and nearby preserve.
Oak Meadows was built in the 1920s and has experienced increased flooding since 2007. It also lost its clubhouse in a 2009 fire. As a result, officials said, revenues and its customer base have eroded in the past five years, while the course also faced recurring expenses to repair flood damage. In addition, when the course is closed for flooding, officials estimate losses at $5,000 to $10,000 a day.
Oak Meadows includes an 18-hole course, as well as a bordering 9-hole course called Maple Meadows East-9.
"We knew we had golf course needs, but we kind of had a bigger idea," said Ed Stevenson, forest preserve golf operations director. "We wondered if we could also make the preserve a better preserve by creating more wetlands and natural habitat. The answer was 'yes' in phase 1, which is why we can move to phase 2 to look at how to create a return on investment for golf and recreational improvements."
In its first study, Martin Design broke down the $19.3 million price tag to upgrade Oak Meadows into several components and approximate costs:
• $2.4 million for earth work and site development, which includes moving land to create more wetlands and stormwater capacity, restoring stream banks to their original state, and getting rid of berms.
• $4.2 million for preserve enhancements and environmental improvements. This includes work such as dam removals and integrating part of the Salt Creek Greenway Trail into the course, then connecting the trail to Wood Dale Grove Forest preserve, so nongolfers can use the area.
• $5.8 million for golf improvements such as reshaping greens, creating new tees, installing irrigation systems and regrading fairways.
• Just less than $1 million to make site improvements to the clubhouse area, which includes reducing parking and designing traffic flow to and from a possible clubhouse. There has been no clubhouse on site since the 2009 fire.
• $3.3 for clubhouse design and construction.
• $2.3 million for five years' worth of maintenance on the course and preserve, including mowing, shoreline work and prescription burns.
The forest preserve district held an open house in October to detail the plan with residents and gather feedback. Residents also have continued giving their input at regular commission meetings this month.
Some, including members of the DuPage River Salt Creek Work Group and local Sierra Club chapters, spoke in favor of the project and its ability to enhance water quality and the environment.
At least one said it didn't go far enough ecologically and needs more wetland-to-greenway ratio, despite the fact the plan would eliminate Maple Meadows East-9 for more wetlands.
Now that the forest commission has given permission to move forward with more planning, Martin Design will explore issues such as hydraulic modeling of the course, as well as how to generate revenue.
"We wanted to put this break point between phases to avoid wasting money," Stevenson said. "There would have been no point in spending money on hydraulic modeling if the firm told us we couldn't improve the course and do what we hoped environmentally."
He said the work also will help staff members get a better idea of grant money that could support the improvements, and he projects they could secure up to $4.5 million for environmental components of the work.
In addition, Oak Meadows has about $4.5 million in reserves, primarily from the insurance settlement for the destroyed clubhouse, which could pay for other work.
"When people see $19 million, they think that's a lot of money, and it is," Stevenson said. "But we must remember it's a preserve improvement project, stormwater retention, and wetland creation that happens to have a golf course in it."