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posted: 3/28/2013 6:43 PM

Candidates debate how to renovate aging gem of a golf course

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  • Julia Caporusso

      Julia Caporusso

  • Stephen Kurka

      Stephen Kurka

  • Raymond Massie

      Raymond Massie

  • William Starr

      William Starr

 

The Mount Prospect Park District's golf course gets high marks from such publications like Golf Digest magazine.

But the course, which dates back to the 1920s when it was a private club, faces an expensive renovation, an issue that has surfaced in this year's campaign for the park board.

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One of the candidates, Raymond Massie, has expressed concern over the cost. He said the original proposal on the table would have cost the district $4 million. Now the price tag could be as high as $6 or $7 million

"Who knows what it is going to go up to?" he said at a recent candidates' forum.

"I think the golf course should be done, but I think it should be done in a frugal way, where we address the water system, we address the retention ponds, so we're not subject to all the water issues from (Chicago)," he added.

"It will save us a lot of money if we do it the right way." But he also pointed out that 93 percent of the residents do not use the golf course.

While Massie considers the golf course a major issue, "It is not the only major issue in our town. The south end of our town has not had a pool since Kopp Pool."

Stephen Kurka, in a candidate questionnaire, said the golf course's irrigation system, which was installed in the early 1980s, desperately needs to be replaced. Water, he said, also needs to be more efficiently drained from the course and more efficiently retained in the ponds and lakes on the course in order to feed the irrigation system.

He said the plan on the table accomplishes that, while also providing a full-service driving range.

At the forum, Kurka also stressed that the project must be done in a timely and "cost prudent" manner.

"But the golf course, regardless of all of the problems ongoing right now, actually makes a profit" of between $250,000 and $300,000. "That's a key component in keeping fees down for our constituents and our consumers here in the park district."

Candidate Bill Starr said in the forum that the park district should also concentrate on meeting the needs of the 92 or 93 percent of the public that does not play golf.

"What about the soccer fields that are dirt and need to have grass? What about the baseball fields that have stones?" he asked. "You don't want to catch a ground ball right in the mouth, do you? Those things need to be addressed."

Other needs are a pool on the south side of town and a large baseball field for men's leagues.

Starr called the golf course a gem -- "a jewel in our community."

Nonetheless, he said, "Let's figure out how we can pay for this, because $6.5 to $7 million is excessive. In our budget, that's the next two years."

Julia Caporusso, a current member of the board who did not attend the forum because of her board obligations, said in her candidate questionnaire, "The renovation of the golf course is the first priority on the capital improvement plan for the Mount Prospect Park District."

She said she ran for the board four years ago because she did not support the proposed master plan that called for moving the driving range to Melas Park "and the redesign of a golf course that is considered to be a landmark."

In a phone interview this week, she said, "At Melas Park, it would not be convenient for kids to get their clubs from Melas Park to the golf course."

The new plan, she said, addresses the irrigation and drainage needs, but keeps the driving range on-site and the golf course retains its classic design.

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