Getting out on the water may only be a nice thought this time of year, but officials at the Lake County Forest Preserve District already are considering options for potentially valuable Chain O' Lakes boating rights for future summers.
The district acquired the rights to 45 piers at the Lake Marie Forest Preserve near Antioch when it purchased the former campground on the namesake lake in fall 2012. Although the preserve has not been opened to the public, the district needs to decide what to do with those pier rights before the 2015 boating season.
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"They might decide we don't have any piers or they may want to keep a lot of them," said Mike Tully, the director of operations and public safety.
Tully is looking for direction from elected officials on how many pier rights will be retained as well as how to sell those that are not.
He said the number of pier rights on the Chain `O Lakes are governed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Because the number has been frozen, the rights are considered a commodity that could be sold to another entity.
"It wouldn't be on our property," Tully said of any that are sold. "It would be somewhere else."
The suggestion is to use a third party auction house to sell the rights to the piers. Depending on market conditions, that could amount to between $3,000 and $10,000 per pier, according to the district.
Tully explained the scenario on Monday to members of the forest board's planning and restoration committee. Members may consider keeping some pier rights for public access but do not envision operating a marina at Lake Marie.
"That's not our plan," said forest preserve President Ann Maine. "There are plenty of (commercial) facilities up there."
No recommendation was forthcoming and committee members asked for further analysis of the potential costs and benefits, Tully said.
When it bought the property west of Route 59 and north of Beach Grove Road, the district also acquired 45 floating boat piers, the condition of which ranges from fair to poor.
Since pier rights are considered abandoned if they are not used during the boating season, the district applied for and was granted an exception from the Army Corps. It has until the 2015 boating season to install piers at Lake Marie without the risk of losing the rights.
"I don't want to wait until the last minute," Tully said.
Opening the Lake Marie preserve to public access was considered last year but dropped from consideration because of potential operation and maintenance costs for even limited facilities.
It is listed as one of 14 possible projects to be considered by district officials later this month for funding in the district's five-year capital plan.