Forest district considers $1.4M plan for electric cart storage at Countryside Golf Club near Mundelein
The Lake County Forest Preserve District is set to take a key step in the eventual conversion of 146 carts at its Countryside Golf Club from gas to electric power.
Designating $1.4 million in its 10-year capital plan for a facility to store and charge electric carts doesn't mean the switch is imminent. But doing so creates a placeholder in the budget process to get the ball rolling, possibly in 2024.
The capital plan, which is part of the district's annual budget, was approved in June. At the time, a project to design and build storage for electric carts at the 36-hole course was delayed as funding sources were finalized.
Golf is an enterprise fund that pays its own way. However, the cost of the cart storage facility would hamper the courses' ability to replace standard equipment.
As suggested, the golf fund would pay half and the district will allocate $700,000 from general funds as a zero-interest loan payable over 10 years.
Adding the design and construction of the golf cart storage facility will be considered by the full forest board next week.
Though there has been general support, the pending action is considered important in the district's goal to lower its carbon footprint.
"This would put us on track for four net-zero buildings," said Ty Kovach, executive director.
A net zero building produces enough energy to power itself. The others are the solar-powered welcome center at Ryerson Conservation Area; an environmental education center at Ryerson under construction; and, a proposed maintenance facility at the Lakewood Forest Preserve.
Electric-powered golf carts have been around for about 30 years, said Alex Eichman, the district's chief of golf operations.
In fact, because there is indoor storage, the 80 carts in use at ThunderHawk Golf Club in Beach Park have been electric-powered since the course opened in 1999, Eichman said.
"We have to have indoor storage before we (can) have one single electric cart," he added.
Forest commissioners discussed converting 10 gas-powered lawn mowers at Countryside to electric. But that's a new option with emerging questions, including price.
"That's still on the table. My recommendation was to go down this path because we can make a bigger impact," Eichman said.
"We think it's probably the wisest thing to do to reduce our fuel consumption and show we're good stewards of the environment," he added.
The Audubon Signature Sanctuary program at ThunderHawk and Cooperative Sanctuary program at Countryside also contribute to the big environmental picture, according to Kovach.
Ann Maine, a member of the forest board's operations committee, which discussed the electric cart facility Monday, said the project also can raise public awareness.
"There's also an educational opportunity," she said.
While the funding would be designated for 2024, the capital plan can change. Eichman said the timing of electric cart storage at Countryside is to be determined.
"It's a project that will take a lot of time (and) a lot of planning," he said.