Lake County Forest Preserve District won't contribute to bike share plan

  • David Husemoller, sustainability manager at the College of Lake County, and other partners are pursuing a bike share program in the Grayslake area. Their efforts took a hit Monday, however, when Lake County Forest Preserve District commissioners declined a request they help fund the project.

      David Husemoller, sustainability manager at the College of Lake County, and other partners are pursuing a bike share program in the Grayslake area. Their efforts took a hit Monday, however, when Lake County Forest Preserve District commissioners declined a request they help fund the project. Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2018

 
 
Updated 11/4/2019 5:26 PM

Lake County Forest Preserve District commissioners say they like the idea of a local bike sharing program but oppose spending district money to participate.

That means a consortium of entities that want to start a two-year pilot program in the Grayslake area will be looking elsewhere for another partner willing to contribute $19,000 for a required fifth docking station.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

The Lake County Regional Bike Share Consortium asked the forest preserve district to sponsor a station with space for five bikes at the Rollins Savanna Forest Preserve. The group has commitments for four stations, but a minimum of 25 bikes is needed to make the program with Zagster Inc. feasible, forest preserve commissioners were told.

The consortium includes the village of Grayslake, Grayslake Park District, Grayslake Area Public Library District and the College of Lake County.

However, the district's budget is set and there isn't $19,000 available for the two-year pilot program, the forest board's operations and planning committees determined in separate meetings Monday.

Commissioner and former forest district President Ann Maine of Lincolnshire said there has been a "cataclysmic drop" of about $11 million in property tax revenue since 2009.

Over that time, the district has been able to extend its trail system and make other improvements only because it has intently focused on what is spent and made tough decisions.

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"We've been cutting employees, we've been cutting programs," Maine said. "There are really important programs only we can do and we don't have the money."

Executive Director Ty Kovach said a lot of programs were left out of the 2020 budget and even small expenditures are being scrutinized.

"We're cutting every place," he said.

Forest district staff members had recommended against the contribution in part because no money is available. The district already supports the concept because trails are available at Rollins Savanna and elsewhere, it was noted.

Another issue was that forest preserve gates are locked at the end of the day, which could pose an issue for riders returning bikes.

Some commissioners suggested local businesses might sponsor a docking station and there may be other locations, such as a public park across Washington Street from Rollins Savanna.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"I think the onus really is on the consortium itself and the (bike share) company to explores other avenues," said Commissioner Craig Taylor, a member of the operations committee from Lake Zurich.

"Our paths are open to them. There are just other ways of doing it," he added. "As far as (we) being involved and putting money into it, that's a stretch."

The decisions mean that unless or until the consortium returns with a different proposal, there is no further action or discussion required by the forest preserve district or its committees on the issue.

David Husemoller, sustainability manager at the College of Lake County, said the effort likely will continue without forest preserve district participation.

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