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County may buy golf course from commissioner's family

Friday, September 05, 2008
Chicago Sun-Times

Cook County Forest Preserve officials are set to negotiate a deal to buy Rolling Knolls Golf Course -- which is owned by county Commissioner Timothy Schneider's family.

The Forest Preserve Board on Thursday approved a proposal authorizing further talks with Schneider's family about acquiring the 65-acre golf course near Elgin. The vote came about two weeks after the Elgin Planning Commission voted down the Schneider family's plan to turn Rolling Knolls into a smaller nine-hole course and a subdivision.

Schneider recused himself from Thursday's vote and said he had not been involved in discussions with the Forest Preserve District about the possible sale.

Schneider said he asked Forest Preserve Supt. Steven Bylina about a year ago for a letter saying the district was not interested in buying the property. At that time, Schneider said, he also asked the city of Elgin and the Elgin Park District if they had interest in the property.

Later, a Cook County Forest Preserve representative contacted Schneider about buying the golf course, which is adjacent to the Poplar Creek Forest Preserve.

"I told him that I couldn't have anything to do with negotiations with the county . . . and to contact my brother," Schneider said. "It will be a decision I will be involved in as well as my four other brothers, sister and mother. . . . I have recused myself" from voting on the matter.

He said his family may still develop the property and has plans to put their proposal before the Elgin City Council in coming weeks.

Forest Preserve District officials are authorized to negotiate a sale, and there is cash available to purchase the land, according to a memo Bylina sent to the board.

Schneider said the possible sale of the golf course to the county is not a conflict of interest.

"I spent my whole career here trying to be straight up and avoid any conflict of interest. . . . Look at my record," he said. "We spent $1.7 million of my family's money trying to get a subdivision annexed. . . . If I knew we would sell it to the Forest Preserve, would we spend that money?"

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