A Cook County judge on Monday entered an order finalizing a judicial sale of the nearly 400-acre Barrington Hills equestrian estate known as Horizon Farms to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County, making it the district's largest property acquisition in more than 45 years.
"This kind of opportunity doesn't come up every day in modern Cook County," said Don Parker, a forest preserve spokesman. "A site of this size is very hard to come by and the forest preserve is extremely excited for the potential of this purchase and what it may mean for the public."
The $14.5 million purchase of the site at 311 Algonquin Road (Route 62), just west of routes 68 and 59, brings the total acreage of the district's preserves to 69,123.
Parker said after the property undergoes a full site assessment, the forest preserve will ask the public what it would like done with the land, although there is no time table for that process yet.
According to a brochure from a 2006 auction of Horizon Farms, the property features several houses, including a main house, a guesthouse, a bunk house, a staff apartment building and duplex. There are several facilities for horses as well, including about 20 horse paddocks, several barns, a large show barn and a racetrack.
The site also a contains a large pond and some of the land around Goose Lake.
Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said he supports the forest preserve's purchase of the farm.
"Barrington Hills welcomes this development as it will help promote and protect open spaces in our community, which is consistent with our comprehensive plan," McLaughlin wrote in an email to the Daily Herald. "The equestrian facilities, graded equestrian riding areas, natural grass trails, and unique natural habitat present on this parcel provide a wonderful opportunity for all of Cook County residents to enjoy."
Parker said another benefit of acquiring the land is its proximity to other preserves such as the Spring Creek Forest Preserve to the west and the Crabtree Forest Preserve to the east.
"There may be an opportunity to connect those preserves with new trails," he said.
Local wildlife benefits from the proximity as well.
"A bird that uses one preserve may be able to move to the neighboring preserve in case one becomes crowded or unsuitable," Parker said.
The property had been in dispute since last year, when it was placed in foreclosure.
Last month, Cook County Judge Thomas R. Allen ruled against Horizon Farms owners Richard Kirk Cannon and Meryl Squires Cannon and Todd Baker and Wanda Dziopek, both of Chicago, who claimed the forest preserve district unlawfully inserted itself in a foreclosure action involving what was one of the largest privately held properties in Cook County.