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Trustees eye plans for bike trail at course

Thursday, June 16, 2005
Pioneer Press
by ANDREW SCHROEDTER

The Glencoe Village Board has met behind closed doors in recent months to discuss relocating a bike path onto Glencoe Golf Club property, though village and county officials differ on whether the move would require the course be reconfigured.

The northernmost length of the Cook County Forest Preserve District's North Branch Bicycle Trail winds through the Chicago Botanic Garden before it dead ends at Lake Cook Road.

One proposal calls for moving the trail outside the garden's campus and rebuilding it along the golf club's western and northern boundaries.

Sources say federal money would be used to finance the construction.

Village and county officials said the deal doesn't mandate the two bodies swap any parcels of land.

The project could take two to three years to complete and is contingent on the signing of an agreement between Glencoe and the forest preserve district, which owns half of the 126-acre golf course. The garden and the golf course sit alongside one another and extend from Dundee to Lake Cook Road, buffered by wooded acreage and a perimeter fence.

In February, Glencoe received a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation so officials could study potential routes and assess the project's feasibility, said David Mau, Glencoe Public Works director.

The village applied for the money in March 2003. U.S. Rep. Mark Kirk, R-10th, of Deerfield, helped facilitate the grant proposal, which was funded through the department's Transportation and Community System Preservation Program, said Matt Towson, a Kirk spokesman.

Village Manager Paul Harlow confirmed that board members had discussed the bike trail in executive session, but said the talks concerned route selection and how the golf course would be affected.

Board members also discussed the drafting of a request for proposals to study feasibility, he said.

Randy Neufeld, executive director of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation, said he's seen preliminary sketches of a rerouted trail.

"The likely scenario is through the Glencoe golf course," Neufeld said. "There's been a lot of action on that. ... Bottom line is (the path) would be routed so it would have a minimum impact on the woods."

Cook County Commissioner Larry Suffredin, D-13th, of Evanston, said the golf course may have to be reconfigured if the path is moved. Suffredin stressed that no additional forest preserve district property would be lost to a redesign of the golf club.

"Glencoe has been looking to reconfigure holes on the course up there," Suffredin said Monday.

"This may be an opportunity for them to put some diversity in the course."

Sources say the fourth and fifth holes, located on the north end of the golf club by Lake Cook Road, would have to be redone for the trail to fit.

Harlow, though, said any talk of reconfiguring the golf course is premature. He added the bike trail talks had nothing to do with a developer's proposal to build a hotel and resort complex at the golf club's 16th and 17th holes. The Village Board rejected the hotel idea in October 2003.

"We don't want to get ahead of the game in any way, shape or form," Harlow said. "Before proceeding, the village wants to study the impact on the course and whether or not it's viable as it relates to the course. Part of what we're discussing is that the course won't be impacted. The goal is not to impact the course."

A redesign of the North Branch Trail is an idea that civic leaders have entertained for years.

Informal discussions on the matter have included officials from the Chicago Botanic Garden, Highland Park, Glencoe, the Cook County Forest Preserve District and state Rep. Elizabeth Coulson, R-17th, of Glenview.

Glencoe, county and garden officials have agreed to convene sometime in the next few weeks to discuss the issue in further detail, said Anne-Marie St. Germaine, the garden's vice president of external affairs.

From the golf course, officials said the paved trail could be rerouted through the county's McDonald Woods, which run parallel to Lake Cook Road at the golf club's north end, on its way toward Green Bay Road.

There it would join with the Green Bay Trail near the Braeside Metra Station in Highland Park.

The 20-mile North Branch Trail begins at Caldwell and Devon avenues in Chicago. The Green Bay Trail extends from Chicago to Kenosha, running alongside the Metra Union Pacific North Line tracks.

Mau said the 1.5-mile gap between the North Branch and Green Bay trails isn't bicycle friendly, though he didn't believe the county would be open to cutting a path through the woods.

"We're going to have to find the least obstructive route," Mau said.

Neufeld said the interruption presents a danger because the sidewalks along Lake Cook Road aren't contiguous and bicyclists wanting to access the Green Bay Trail must ride along the congested street.

On an average day, nearly 12,000 vehicles travel along Lake Cook Road between Green Bay Road and the Edens Expressway, according to Illinois Department of Transportation data.

"There's essentially a segment that's missing," Neufeld said.

"People use Lake Cook Road to make the connection. We would prefer the connection go through the forest preserve."


 

 



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