Downtown Buffalo Grove Proposal: Current Status and Golf Course History

Buffalo_Grove_GolfcourseBy Leon Gopon

Following is information I have gathered from official Village documents, Village Board meetings and casual conversations with various Village officials.

The people running both BG golf courses presented their upcoming golf season’s marketing plan for the courses at a Village Board meeting in December 2012.  At that meeting, the Village President reiterated that both BG golf courses will be open for the entire golfing season coming up.

As far as I know, there are many details to be fleshed out before anybody on the Village board can determine if it’s a yes or no project.  Before it gets to the Trustees, the plan has to go through several committees (Planning for example) and be approved by all of them first before the plan is passed on to the Trustees for a vote.  The flood plain issue is very complicated and can’t be resolved by just one agency.  When I talked to the Village Manager, he said a main controlling agency is FEMA.  Then there is the Corps of Engineers, Metro Water Reclamation District, the County and other agencies that have to get their two cents in.  I haven’t heard if any of these agencies being asked for their two cents as of yet, but that could be happening.

The developer has not received any commitments from businesses that would agree to locate in the proposed downtown area.  He wants the Village to approve his marketing plan so he can start soliciting businesses.  The Trustees, on the other hand, want to know what the plan will be before they sign off on it and let him solicit businesses.  The developer can’t tell what the plan will be until he get commitments from businesses.  Right now, that whole scenario is going around in circles.  I believe the developer wants to solicit businesses at a convention to be held in May in Las Vegas.

On March 7, the Save BG committee is having a Candidates’ Nite at the Village Tavern at 7 p.m.  The three Trustees running for re-election (Les Ottenheimer, Andy Stein, and Bev Sussman) will be there to talk with residents about their backgrounds, feelings about the pros and cons of the Village and to answer questions about the downtown proposal and Save BG’s requested referendum to approve the proposal.  So far, I have received positive thoughts about the referendum from two Trustees and we have over 230 signatures on the referendum petition.  Signatures are coming from all parts of the Village, not just from the area around the golf course.

On April 4, we’ll be holding another open meeting for residents at the Village Tavern.  The subject will be the flood plain issue on the golf course.  Greg Boysen, the Director of Public Works, will give a half hour presentation of the flood plain situation on the golf course and what compensation would be required because of any building on the golf course.  The Village Manager expressed interest in this presentation and he may also be at that meeting.  There will time for questions from the audience.

The golf course was originally purchased with a five-year installment contract between BG and the American National Bank in 1974.  When the interest rate on the loan was going to be raised by 17%, the Village passed an ordinance (76-56) to approve a new fifteen-year installment contract with Allstate Insurance for about $1.1 million, plus interest, to continue the long-term purchase option of the golf course.  The Village then had what they called “a back door referendum” to get residents’ approval on the ordinance to purchase the golf course with the loan from Allstate.  That referendum passed with 2142 yes votes and 164 no votes.  Reasons put forth by the Village to purchase the golf course were: open space, safety and health.  So, if we bought the golf course by having a referendum, it seems apropos that we have a referendum to sell the golf course.

I’ve had, and continue to have, conversations with Trustees Terson, Stein, Sussman, Trilling, and Berman, and Manager Bragg about the downtown proposal.  Everything I hear from the Village is that it’ll take about two years for the proposal to sell the golf course and approve building a downtown BG on it.  This is necessary to go through the red tape, committees, etc. before any Trustee vote will take place.  If approved, it’ll take about 8 years to build.  So, in total, it’ll be 10 years before there’s a downtown BG (if approved).

Here’s a brief history on how the golf Course was purchased:

  1. 1974 – Five-year purchase agreement arranged between BG and American National Bank.  A clause in the contract was “Purchaser (BG) shall not sell, lease, or encumber said golf course until the amount due under this agreement shall be paid in full, both principal and interest.”
  2. 1976 – Purchase revised as a fifteen-year installment contract with Allstate Insurance.
  3. Ordinance 76-50 was adopted to purchase the golf course.  Wording changes regarding the purchase caused 76-50 to be replaced by Ordinance 76-56.
  4. 1977 – A petition was presented to the Board of Trustees requesting a referendum for Ordinance 76-56.  Ordinance 77-5 was adopted calling for the referendum to be held on 2/19/77.  The vote was 2142 “for” purchase and 164 “against”.
  5. 1977 – An installment agreement was assigned to Allstate Insurance and American Nation Bank and Trust Company was paid in full.
  6. 1991 – the installment agreement with Allstate was paid in full.

Reasons to buy the golf course as determined in 1976 and taken from Village documents:

  • The golf course is essential to the Village of BG. It serves the public interests. It is necessary for public safety. The golf course provides cleaner air.  The golf course best serves the Village in its present form.
  • Golf course development will require unending demands for water, sewers, street maintenance, police and fire protection, as well as additional needs faced by the school districts.
  • Additional taxes will be needed, but golf course profits will be used to repay the loan for the major portion of the purchase.  It was estimated taxes would be $1.40 per $10,000 of accessed valuation each year for the 15-year life of the loan.  If the golf course were developed, the tax increase would be $25 -$30 each year per $10,000 assessed valuation.
  • Golf course profits were estimated to be $90,000+ per year, based on the 1976 audit showing $93,000 profit.
  • The golf course serves as a flood plain.  The golf course provides natural retention areas during heavy rains.  The open space controls flooding.  Building on a flood plain has consequences to the Village that can be severe.
  • Estimated costs for the school districts if the golf course was developed were about $613,000.
  • Green space was an issue.  The parcels surrounding the golf course have a residential character.  The golf course is one of the largest tracts of open space left in the northwest suburbs.  Open space is a non-renewable resource.  The golf course is a central focus for the open-space net in BG.  There is a village plan to link up all various open spaces in the Village into a single, continuous network.  Open space delineates and buffers certain functions of the town and serves as an excellent transitional boundary between various types of land uses.  The golf course is earmarked as open space by other agencies, e.g., NIPC open space plan and Lake County open space plan.
  • Golf course land must be identified as build-able or non-build-able.  No building can be allowed on non-build-able land.
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