Put off rebuilding Oak Meadows golf clubhouse? DuPage forest board debates
Some DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners are questioning whether the district is moving too fast to rebuild a clubhouse at its new-look golf course in Addison.
The board is expected to vote Tuesday on two contracts related to construction of a proposed clubhouse for The Preserve at Oak Meadows -- formerly Oak Meadows Golf Course.
The first would pay up to $266,750 to Elmhurst-based Daniel Wohlfeil Design Ltd. to work on construction documents and permitting. The second would pay $40,000 to Pepper Construction Co. to provide preconstruction services as project construction manager.
But when the board learned this week that the clubhouse could cost roughly $9 million, Commissioner Mary Lou Wehrli suggested the project be postponed for a year until after the district has a new master plan to guide decisions about improving and maintaining existing facilities -- and constructing new ones.
"I think the expense is too great at this time," Wehrli said. "I think it's too far from our mission at this time."
She said the district already spent $16.8 million to improve The Preserve at Oak Meadows, which included restoring a stretch of Salt Creek that flows through the 288-acre property and consolidating two golf courses into a single 18-hole facility with greater flood resistance and more stormwater storage capacity.
While she acknowledged a clubhouse would be a nice enhancement, she said there are other facilities that also deserve attention.
Commissioner Tim Whelan said improvements are needed at Willowbrook Wildlife Center, a Glen Ellyn facility that "is more in the nature of what our mission is."
Still, most board members expressed a desire to rebuild the clubhouse.
"This has been an ongoing plan for years and years and years," Commissioner Al Murphy said. "I think it's time to build it. If we put it off, costs are going to go up."
The Preserve at Oak Meadows had a clubhouse for decades until the structure was destroyed in a 2009 fire.
"How on earth can you have a golf course without a real clubhouse?" forest preserve President Joseph Cantore said. "If this was my piece of property ... I would have had that clubhouse done by now."
Meanwhile, Cantore said architects have designed a prairie-style facility that would be the perfect size at roughly 18,000 square feet.
The main floor would have a pro shop, a restaurant and bar, and outdoor terraces. A multipurpose space with a capacity for up to 126 people would be used for golf outings, educational programs and other events. The basement would include a freezer, keg room, mechanical room and several storage rooms.
Officials said there are several possible funding sources, including up to $9 million the district borrowed for land acquisition and site improvements.
The district received a roughly $7 million insurance settlement after the original clubhouse burned. Some of that money has been used to help pay the course's operating expenses, but roughly $1.5 million remains.
If the board agrees, bids would be sought in January and construction would start next April with a target opening in May 2020.