Protestors organize against golf course easement proposal


Clare Proctor / Daily Senior Staffer

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) speaks at a rally protesting a proposed easement at the Canal Shores Golf Course. The easement would harm the area’s ecology and “effectively destroy” the freeway.

Clare Proctor, Assistant City Editor

Golfers, dog walkers and local residents rallied on the 10th hole of the Canal Shores Golf Course just north of Evanston to protest plans to pave a road in a section of the course.

The Dick Keefe Development Corporation is seeking an easement from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District board to construct a road on the 10th hole fairway. This easement would increase flood risks for homes in the area, harm wetlands and 100-year-old oak trees and “effectively destroy” the fairway, according to a Canal Shores news release.

“This particular piece of land is the most ecologically sensitive and most physically attractive piece on the entire golf course, and maybe in all of East Wilmette and Evanston,” Larry Mages — vice president of the board of the Evanston Wilmette Golf Course Association — told The Daily.

The development corporation owns a plot of land running next to the golf course, Mages said, and they intend to utilize the easement as an access route to build four homes. However, the MWRD — which owns the land and leases it to the golf course — can only take the property back in few “unique instances,” he said. One of those instances would be if the Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways Department says they require a road for its use, he said.

The easement would benefit the Keefe Family Trust, which is associated with the Dick Keefe Development Corporation.

Protestors are calling State Sen. John Cullerton’s (D-Chicago) role in the easement proposal into question. Cullerton serves as Keefe’s attorney and has an ownership interest in the Dick Keefe Development Corporation, Mages said. The Village of Wilmette estimates that the road would cost $700,000, he said, and would be paid for by Cook County taxpayers.

Evanston Mayor Steve Hagerty spoke at the rally, saying those protesting the easement have the full support of himself and the City Council. In May 2017, the council opposed a former easement request that would have built a road off of Isabella Street.

“The problem was that the land owner could not maximize their profit from their perspective and build four homes,” Hagerty said. “Let me be very clear: It is not government’s job to maximize a private owner’s profit.”

The rally encouraged protestors to email Toni Preckwinkle, Cook County Board president, and explain the circumstances. Preckwinkle has the power to put a stop to the easement, said John Quail, director of watershed planning for Friends of the Chicago River, an organization working to keep the river healthy, who spoke at the event.

Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) — whose ward contains the Evanston portion of the golf course — also encouraged attendees to continue putting pressure on the MWRD to oppose the easement.

The MWRD is set to vote whether to grant the easement on Thursday, which would be a precursor to building the road. Revelle told The Daily she attended a previous meeting concerning the easement and plans to attend the meeting on Thursday as well.

“So many of us enjoy coming to this space, and particularly, I speak for non-golfers,” she said. “We regularly walk across the golf course and this part of the golf course in particular. It would affect the experience we have that we enjoy right now of this beautiful ecological green space.”

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