Submissions now open for proposed North Side mini golf course

Marshall Cohen

City officials are currently seeking proposals to design, build and operate a miniature golf course on the north side of Evanston near the Central Chicago Transit Authority stop.

The proposed minigolf course would be built near the Chandler-Newberger Community Center, 1028 Central St., and would adjoin the 18-hole regulation golf course operated by the Evanston-Wilmette Golf Association.

“We think it would be a great addition to the leisure activities that are offered by the city to the folks in the community,” said Doug Gaynor, the city’s director of parks, recreation and community services.

City spokesman Eric Palmer said a minigolf course could make the community “more interesting” for prospective visitors or people who are considering moving to Evanston.

The nonprofit Evanston-Wilmette Golf Association has faced financial pressure in recent years and was unable to pay its water bills last summer. Its president, Evanston resident John LoSasso, blamed the recession and an apparent decline of local interest in golf during a June city council meeting.

City officials said they hope a new minigolf course could bring additional revenue to Evanston and to the struggling golf course.

“The city is the one that is going to create this miniature golf course, and if there is revenue that comes in, it will come in to the city,” Gaynor said. “We think that if there are more activities around the golf course that it may increase the golf course participation.”

As of Monday night, 10 firms had requested the official proposal materials from DemandStar, the website Evanston uses to post government contract opportunities.

Four of the groups are based in Illinois. Chicago-based firm Vasilko Architects, which is owned by Evanston resident Michael Vasilko, was one of the companies that requested the bid proposal.

“I think Evanston has more architects per square foot than any community in the country, so it definitely should be someone from Evanston if at all possible,” Vasilko said. “I think we should keep the money in Evanston as far as I’m concerned.”

Vasilko said he hasn’t made a final decision whether he will officially submit a proposal. He said Vasilko Architects is strictly an architectural firm and he would not be interested in building or operating the minigolf course.

“My role could be the design portion and I’d have to set up a team,” Vasilko said. “I am thinking about that, and I may contact some people I know to create a team.”

Gaynor said he was very pleased to see the wide-ranging interest in the city’s proposal and that city officials would assess the qualifications of all firms that eventually submit proposals.

“But everything being equal, we would love to have an Evanstonian run the company we would work with,” he added.

New Jersey-based Harris Miniature Golf Courses, Inc. and Michigan-based Adventure Golf Services – two firms that are considered industry leaders in the minigolf field – also requested the city’s online proposal.

A pre-proposal conference for interested bidders will be held Feb. 29, and the submissions are due May 15.

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