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Aldermen on Evanston’s Human Services Committee voted Monday night to give the non-profit that runs the golf course along the North Shore Channel extra time to come up with funds to pay its overdue water bill.

Several residents who live near the course spoke at the meeting urging that the course not be shut down.

And City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said that wasn’t the goal of the resolution staff brought before the aldermen, although the resolution does include a provision calling on the staff to investigate its options for terminating the course’s sublease with the city if the bill remains unpaid.

Bobkiewicz said that under city ordinances the staff would have no option but to shut off the water if the council didn’t provide some different direction.

“We have many other accounts that are overdue,” Bobkiewicz said, “but those no longer receive water from us.”

Golfers on the course Sunday.

He added that the golf course, unlike other water customers, is only charged for water, not for the much higher sewer fees, because all the water spread on the course is considered to soak into the ground and not burden the sewer system.

John LoSasso of 1405 Rosalee St., the president of the Evanston Wilmette Golf Association, said the course has faced budget problems for several years because of the sour economy and a general decline of interest in golf.

John LoSasso of  the Evanston Wilmette Golf Association.

He said that in addition to the $12,000 the group owes Evanston for water it owes another $8,000 in water charges to the Village of Wilmette.

But he said that services the association provides in maintaining the course have let the municipalities escape expenses they’d have to incur to maintain the course on their own.

He said he appreciates the city’s proposal to forego collecting the overdue charges and keep providing water through this year.

“We know we need to make significant changes and we need to establish new partnerships,” LoSasso said, “and we’re looking for support from those who live around the course and have a vested interest in our continuing to be present.”

Richard Miller, whose home adjoins the course.

Richard Miller of 2338 Bryant Ave. said he’s been picking up golf balls from his back yard for 40 years.

He said he and other neighbors have worked for years to help keep the course clean.

And, despite having errant golf balls come flying through his windows, he said he believes the course “is a wonderful community resource, and we should do everything we can to protect it.”

At the request of Alderman Jane Grover, 7th Ward, the resolution was amended to defer payment on, but not completely forgive, water charges for the remainder of this year.

The measure now goes to the full City Council for action next Monday.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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5 Comments

  1. A solution to the problem

    I have an easy solution to this problem of the unpaid water bill.

    Just tell residents nearby that a developer is interested in buying the golf course to build condos and townhomes and watch a few community activists whip up the residents into a mob who will then protest and demand the city forgive the bill. It's doubtful the residents would chip in money themselves.

    The objective would have been achieved – pay the water bill. But at a cost to taxpayers.

    I never said it was a perfect solution.

    😉

  2. Neighbor Says OK – Let It Go….

    I am a neighbor of the golf course and I say let it go.  Golf continues to be popular, but apparently not on this course. 

    Develop the land to add to the city's tax base.  I, for one, am tired of absorbing the cost of running a city with too many religious buildings and the sprawling Northwestern campus – all of which enjoy Evanston tax-free.  Northwestern continues to expand and so often "has to" acquire land that is currently on the property tax rolls.  If the golf course is not popular – let it go.

  3. Golf Course Management is reason for failure

    Dear Residents,

     "keep it" you say but you all want someone else to pay;.  Ok, fine- then YOU pay the water bill.  If you can't pay your bills, you can't stay in business or  file Chapter 13 or 7.      Period.

    The staff at Govern are introverted, lazy and not capable of managing a golf course.  They don't answer the phone, emails and run away when you look for them on the premises.  The service garage is beat up, unorganized and looks like an old collection farm.  They still run it as if this is Mayberry. 

    Try it:  go  find Terry on a weekday unannounced and watch him quiver and you begin to sense the energy of avoidence, that is, if you do find him.  Or peek into the shop area and get your head bit off by his brother.  As we speak there are dandelions in the fairways-it's a joke.  The golf industry is fairly professional; these guys are hacks.

    The place is a wreck because the way its managed, not because of the economy.  All the other public courses in the suburbs are still open and have managed to keep up with their bills.

  4. Develop the area if a golf course is not viable

    I live next to the golf course and I have no problem seeing the area developed so as to add to the tax base. As the neighbor above indicated, too many free loaders in Evanston such as religious entities and the NU are enjoying our neighborhood on my dime. If the golf course cannot sustain itself or even at the very least pay for its water bill, close it down., Sell the property and have it develpped so that tax paying families can move in and alleviate some of the tax burden too many of us have to face.

    NT

  5. Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association

    Golf has been played on the location currently occupied by the Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course (formerly known as Peter N. Jans Community Golf Course) for more than a century. The former Evanston Country Club once was located on this site, but relocated to its present Skokie address after the canal and the elevated train were constructed in the early part of the 20th century.

    As for potential real estate development on the site, it is worth noting that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago, not the City of Evanston nor the Village of Wilmette, is the actual governmental entity that owns the property. This fact should be readily apparent to almost anyone familiar with the golf course and who has taken a few minutes to read the signage along the golf course property.

    The sanitary district has permitted the local governments to participate in overseeing the property, but I seriously doubt that the district will ever cede control of the land. For what it is worth, the MWRD, already owns another golf course in Southern Cook County. I strongly doubt that one governmental body would readily agree to let another government body to take its potential tax profits away.  

    Criticisms of the golf course management team is valid. Problems have occurred during the past few years, but it appears that some of these issues are beginning to be addressed by the association. The board of directors of the not for profit corporation that exists to maintain the golf course were sometimes misdirected as to the state of affairs by certain day to day managers of the course. Personnel changes are being made.

    In fairness, the course needs to be properly maintained and improved, but what help has been provided to the course by Evanston and Wilmette in terms of helping to police the area? Vandalism is rampant.  

    Several other Cook County suburbs have golf courses that are immediately adjacent to residential areas, but I have never seen a golf course that is subjected to so much interference from its neighbors. Trespassing upon the grounds, which are leased, is a common everyday occurrence. Commuters use the bridge over the canal as a shortcut when they leave the Central Street Metra station or walk across the 18th fairway when leaving the Purple line on Central Street stop. Joggers, walkers, cyclists and dog walkers, many of whom do not leash their pets or clean up after the animals,  constantly interrupt golfers and act as if the property is a public park (it is not) or an extension of their backyards.

    In other communities, the local police issue warnings and, if necessary, fine or arrest people who enter golf courses without proper authorization. The dollars wasted on account of vandalism might be enough to settle any outstanding water bills. "Honor students" routinely enter the grounds to steal the flags from the greens or to toss the tee area markers down the canal banks. I cannot count the number of times that graffiti has had to be removed or painted over on the benches or signs. Underage drinking often occurs on the course overnight. Where are the parents of these young people? 

    While vandalism has occurred in both suburbs, it has been a more significant problem in the Evanston portion of the course. Long term residents can recall the former restroom and concession stand on the 14th hole. It had to be demolished due to constant vandalism a few years ago. None of the neighbors on Jackson or Poplar Avenues or Colfax Street could be bothered to call the police, so the building eventually had to be torn down.

    Golf is a game that requires quiet and concentration. I can personally attest that the golf course has lost income on account of some daily fee players choosing not to return to Evanston and Wilmette due to the constant interference and rudeness that they have encountered on the golf course from adults and teenagers who want to run wild across the property.

    Perhaps, the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association would be able to pay more of their bills if some area residents actually paid for using the course to practice or play golf as do the people who pay for season passes or daily greens fees. I suspect that thousands of dollars in revenue has been lost on account of people simply walking on to the course and playing golf without paying a cent to do so.

    Bottom line: the golf course is well worth saving, but the City of Evanston and the Village of Wilmette need to step up and do their part in addition to the golf course association and its employees. If the City Manager of Evanston is unhappy about the water bills, could the lessees complain that their landlord has not provided adequate police security to allow golfers to quietly enjoy the property?

    If Evanston wants to start to balance its budget, it could start issuing traffic tickets to all of the motorists who routinely ignore the stop signs and striped crosswalks for pedestrians on the streets intersecting the golf course.     

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