Barrington Hills horse trail dispute ends

Almost five years after signing an intergovernmental agreement resolving a dispute over the use of Cook County Forest Preserve land, the Barrington Countryside Park District has met its final obligation under the deal.

The construction of a parking facility near the Barrington Riding Center and the Fox River Valley Pony Club on Bateman Road finished about two weeks ago, completing the intergovernmental agreement signed in 2006.

“It was a common sense agreement,” said Cook County Commissioner Gregg Goslin of Glenview. “Everything was done in accordance with nature.”

“It's an example of how a unified government should work,” he added.

The construction included a new gravel parking lot or “equestrian trail head” and fence.

In 2005 the park district was found to be one of the top encroachments on the forest preserve's 3,900-acre Spring Lake Preserve, which spans from Lake-Cook Road to the north to Higgins Road to the south. The Barrington Riding Center and the Fox River Valley Pony Club had both used the preserve's land for their riding trails and horse jumps.

The July 2006 agreement dictated that the Pony Club use portable jumps instead of permanent ones that would have damaged the land, a provision the Pony Club is more than happy to accept.

“Portable jumps are much more useful,” said Jan Nestrud, organizer of the Horse Trial at Fox River Valley Pony Club. “The path doesn't get beaten up in the same place.”

This also gives the Pony Club the ability to plan their trials and races for years in advance.

“We need to look to the future and have the confidence that we can have these jumps in the years to come,” Nestrud said.

The agreement also stipulates that the park district and Pony Club purchase insurance for liability purposes and that the park district provide the forest preserve with a nonexclusive easement, permitting the preserve to use the park district's driveway.

To fund the new addition to the preserve, the park district obtained a $108,000 grant from a federal Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and spent another $60,000 of its own money on the project.

Richard Lamkey, the past president of the park district board, said he is happy to have the project finally completed and is thankful to all parties for their support.

“This intergovernmental agreement is the legacy I leave to this community of equestrians,” said Lamkey, who retired from the board this year.