County Commissioner Larry Suffredin says the county will provide environmental protections for a planned road across a portion of the Canal Shores Golf Course that the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board approved Thursday.

Suffredin says he’s disappointed that the board approved the easement, sought by developer Joe Keefe to gain access to landlocked property he owns between the golf course and the CTA Purple Line tracks.

Golf course supporters have argued that the new road would effectively destroy the 10th hole of the golf course. And they’ve claimed that the road would cost county taxpayers $700,000 to build.

Suffredin, in a statement, indicated that the county may seek to have the developer pick up the cost of the road as well as “restricting the size of the construction and restricting the type of construction.”

An MWRD aerial map with the dimensions of the proposed easement highlighted.

He also said that all building and zoning requirements of the Village of Wilmette would have to be satisfied before the County Board acts on the project.

The MWRD board approved the easement on a 5-4 vote. Member Debra Shore, who was on the losing side of the vote, said it would set a dangerous precedent, letting a private property owner use public land at public expense.

However a legal principle called easement by necessity may, under certain circumstances, give a landlocked property owner the right to compell an adjoining property owner to grant access across his property to the nearest public road.

A section of a map from the Canal Shores website showing the course layout near the 10th hole.

Keefe previously sought approval for an easement across MWRD land just north of Isabella Street in Evanston. That path would have avoided the golf course property but was rejected by Evanston officials because it crossed what was described as environmentally sensitive land.

After the MWRD vote Thursday a Wilmette park board member said he’d recommend that the park board sue to block the easement. The park board leases the land from the MWRD and in turn subleases it to the golf course.

Two years ago the MWRD ended up paying $44 million to settle a lawsuit that arose after the district attempted to block access across an easement adjacent to its downtown Chicago headquarters building.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. “Fairway Oaks” development is a cruel joke

    What a lousy deal! It stinks worse than a sanitary district sewage treatment works.

    The controversial easement deal approved with the votes of three lame duck MWRD Commissioners (two were appointees who were never elected by the voting public) and a portion of an environmentally sensitive wetland tract is to be bulldozed and destroyed and an entire golf course fairway will be gone. To add insult to injury, the developer plans to name his proposed subdivision “Fairway Oaks” which will require cutting down numerous old growth oak trees and destroying the fairway. The Cook County Forest Preserve District ought to condemn the property and add it to the Forest Preserves.

  2. This smells

    You can visit and you will see John Cullerton (Senate majority leader, among the owners in the Keefe property) donated $50,500 to Larry Suffredin and Larry Suffredin donated $17,500 to Debra Shore and Debra Shore donated $15,000 to Larry Suffredin.  WHY?  While it is true Debra Shore was among the 4 votes against Keefe/Cullerton, if you look at the amount of money that is moving around between campaigns and PAC’s it is very scary and leads me to wonder if one party rule is necessarily in our best interests.

    Why does Ms. Shore need to raise $323,000 for a part time commisisoner job?  

    Ms. Shore donated over $105,000 to the Democratic Party in the last election cycle.  MWRD commissioner Kari Steele donated $70,000 to the Democratic Party (Ms. Steele was among the 5 votes in favor of Cullerton/Keefe).  To my knowledge, the MWRD has one Republican on the board–out of 9 seats.  With complete Democratic dominace of governance and Democrats spending 10 times more than their Republican opponents this  election cycle, it makes me wonder where the money is going, to whose benefit and whether the interests of the public are being honored.  

    Looking at the donors list, it looks like some seriouos influence peddling.  You can decide for yourself.

  3. golf course road

    I’m disappointed by this. This road plan started at the county highway dep’t, and Suffredin didn’t bother to step in.  Now he’s trying to have it both ways.  I had expected more from him.

    There is nothing in the law that requires that Keefe be given an easement for a paved road  They could give him a footpath to satisfy the legal requirement.  He just needs to be able to enjoy his swamp.

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