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Facts About the Lake Bluff Golf Club and its Future
 

The Lake Bluff Park District Board of Commissioners is weighing the question of whether or not the Park District should continue to offer and operate the Lake Bluff Golf Club following the 2018 season. As the Board gathers information to make a decision, it is continuing to listen to and engage residents. This page is designed to provide residents with facts and data being considered by the Board. Following this process of community input, the Board will address the question and vote at an upcoming meeting. This could be as soon as its next scheduled meeting on March 19, 2018.

The Park District is also inviting Lake Bluff residents to learn more and share their thoughts regarding the future of the Lake Bluff Golf Club with the Board directly during two special public meetings: Monday, February 26 and Monday, March 5. Both meetings are from 7–9 p.m. and will take place in the Lake Bluff Park District Gymnasium at 355 W Washington Ave. Each resident who wishes to speak will be allotted three minutes. Residents will also be able to submit written questions at the meetings and answers will be posted to the FAQ portion of this webpage below.

Regardless of any future direction the Board may consider during this community input process, the Golf Club will be open for the entire 2018 season and memberships purchased for this season will be honored.

Click here to download the Golf Meeting slide presentation

Click here to view the comparison of actual to projected Golf Club results (last 12 years actual vs. next 12 years projected)

Click here to view the Lake Bluff Park District projected district-wide net cash flow 2018-2029(12-Year Summary)

Click here to download the Lake Bluff Park District 2017 Cost of Services Study

Click here to download a list of the Lake Bluff Golf Club Capital Needs for 2018-2029

Click here to download construction cost estimates to bring the Golf Clubhouse into compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)

Click here to download the 2013 20-Year Capital Replacement Plan Task Force final report

Park Board Special Public Meeting Presentation February 26, 2018.

Click here to view the Park Board Special Public Meeting Presentation and Public Comments from February 26

Park Board Special Public Meeting Presentation February 26, 2018.

Click here to view the Park Board Special Public Meeting Presentation and Public Comments from March 5

Park Board Special Public Meeting Presentation February 26, 2018.

Click here to view the Regular Park Board Meeting Presentation and Public Comments from March 19

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Click here for updates posted March 7 Click here for updates posted March 9
Click here for updates posted March 15 Click here for updates posted March 16
Click here for updates posted March 19  

Q 1: Is the Park District considering closing the Lake Bluff Golf Club?

A: The Park District is committed to being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars and to providing residents with quality facilities and parks that support the health and wellbeing of the Lake Bluff community. A more than decade-long decline in Lake Bluff Golf Club use is creating financial challenges for the Park District, which operates the Golf Club. The Board of Commissioners and staff have worked hard for more than a decade to keep the Golf Club financially viable for the Lake Bluff community, but this operation has been difficult and costly for the Park District. The Park District’s contract with Billy Casper Golf to operate and manage the Club ends at the end of the 2018 season. Additionally, capital needs for the Golf Club over the next 12 years, including closing the clubhouse in 2019 for significant repairs, total $2.7 million. So, the Park District is engaging the community on the Board’s consideration of the question: Should the Lake Bluff Park District continue to offer and operate the Lake Bluff Golf Club?

Q 2: What if I purchased a Lake Bluff Golf Club membership for the 2018 season?

A: Regardless of any future direction the Board may consider during this community input process, the Golf Club will be open for the entire 2018 season and memberships purchased for this season will be honored.

Q 3: If the Park District elects to close the Golf Club, will it try to find a private third-party entity to manage the club? If not and the Golf Club were to close after 2018, how will the Golf Club property be used?

A: The Park District has unsuccessfully tried to lease the club to private third-party entities in the past and, in 2016, a privately-owned golf course management company, Billy Casper Golf, was contracted to operate the Golf Club while a reduced-cost Park District maintenance staff took care of the course. This hybrid approach did not meaningfully impact the financial burden the Golf Club has on the Park District. The Board is focused solely on engaging the community to decide whether or not the Park District should continue offering and operating the Golf Club following the 2018 season. Ultimately, if the Board elects not to operate the Golf Club past 2018, the Park District will extensively involve the community in a subsequent planning process beginning at the conclusion of the 2018 calendar year.

Q 4: What has the Park District done to try and help generate business for the Golf Club?

A: The Park District tried and tested several operating, marketing and promotion programs over the last several years in an attempt to make the Golf Club operation more financially sustainable. The Park District Board and staff have held more than 50 public meetings about the Golf Club, instituted new programs and youth camps, enhanced services, installed course quality improvements, and brought in outside management. To date, none of these programs have meaningfully impacted the financial burden the Golf Club has on the Park District.

Q 5: Isn’t the Golf Club Subsidized? How much money is the Golf Club losing, and how does the loss compare with other subsidized Park District facilities and programs?

A: The Golf Club requires the highest tax subsidy of all Lake Bluff Park District facilities and programs. The Golf Club’s audited financial losses from 2006-2017 total more than $3 million. Due to the high cost of maintaining a quality club and a decline in revenues, outlays for the golf course are projected to be $5.4 million over the next 12 years—$2.7 million in operating losses plus $2.7 million in identified capital needs.

Q 6: If the Lake Bluff Golf Club were to close after 2018, where could residents who use the Golf Club play? What about everyday players looking for golf at affordable rates?

A: Lake Bluff is in the middle of a very competitive golf market. There are three public golf courses within a five-mile radius of the Golf Club and 21 public golf courses within a 10-mile radius. There are also 14 private golf courses within a 10-mile radius.

Q 7: Isn’t the investment in keeping the Golf Club important, since it brings visitors to the village and to local businesses; and it’s a place used by many seniors and youth?

A: The Park District understands many people enjoy playing golf, which is why for more than a decade the Board and staff worked diligently to engage the community on this issue and try several operating and promotion programs in an attempt to keep the Golf Club financially viable for the Lake Bluff community. However, these approaches have not meaningfully impacted the financial burden the Golf Club has on the Park District. The Park District is committed to being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars, and to managing programs, facilities and operating costs to benefit the majority of Lake Bluff residents.

Q 8: Has the Board accounted for potential increased traffic due to the closure of Highland Park’s golf course and likely closure of other competing municipal facilities in the projections?

A: The Park District’s research into demand shows that even the closure of Highland Park’s golf course and possibly other golf courses would not drive enough traffic to the Lake Bluff Golf Club to overcome our financial challenges. The number of rounds played at the Golf Club has dropped by 6,000 over the past decade, and is consistent with a national trend. This decrease is continuing; outlays for the golf course are projected to be $5.4 million over the next 12 years—$2.7 million in operating losses plus $2.7 million in identified capital needs. In addition, there remain numerous public and private golf course options that would compete with Lake Bluff for golfers, even if some close in the coming years.

Q 9: How can Lake Bluff remain competitive if we take the Golf Club away?

A: To keep the Park District’s assets competitive, the Board has been going through an extensive analysis and planning process for all Park District programs, facilities and services over the past several years. The goals include determining a future vision and direction that maximizes the number of Lake Bluff residents who can participate in and enjoy recreational opportunities, and allocating the community’s resources responsibly.

Q 10: Has the Park District considered selling the Club, merging with Lake County or other courses, or contracting out the entire course operation, including maintenance, to a private firm?

A: In 2015, the Park District sent out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit bids for third-party management proposals. The Board received proposals for operations, maintenance and comprehensive (both operations and maintenance) management. The Board ultimately selected Billy Casper Golf to manage the Golf Club’s operations, while a reduced Park District maintenance staff maintained the Club.

Note: A previous version of this answer stated incorrectly that the Park District’s 2015 RFP solicited bids for third-party management and/or lease proposals. In fact, the RFP was for private third-party management proposals only. In March of 2018, the Lake County Forest Preserves notified the Park District that it is not interested in leasing the Lake Bluff Golf Club and on March 19, 2018, the Board directed staff to issue a nationwide RFP to lease the Golf Club (15-year minimum lease).

Q 11: Could the Park District reduce costs and capital expenditures at other Park District facilities to cover the Golf Club’s losses?

A: For several years, the Lake Bluff Park District has been going through an extensive analysis and planning process for all Park District programs, facilities and services. The Board’s planning process has involved several third-party experts and firms that helped the Park District identify options and opportunities across the district to reduce costs and capital expenditures. These options, however, would not do enough to meaningfully reduce the financial burden the Golf Club has on the Park District.

Q 12: Has the District explored the potential negative impact on residential property values, if the Golf Club were to close?

A: The Park District has not done such studies but does know that research shows that natural areas improve property values, even more so than urban parks, specialty parks and golf courses. If the Board does elect to close the Golf Club, the Park District will begin a process that includes gathering public input to determine the use of the property that’s best for the park district and nearby residents.

Q 13: Has the District explored a potential referendum to see if residents would be willing to pay more in taxes to cover the Golf Club losses?

A: The Board has not discussed raising taxes to cover operating losses for the Golf Club. However, a 2013 Citizen Capital Plan Task Force identified over $3 million in capital needs for the golf course. The Board decided not to include these needs in the 2014 referendum.

Q 14: What other facilities of the Park District are losing money?

A: Not all Park District programs and facilities make a profit. That’s why the Board approved a financial model for the Park District to prioritize more tax subsidies for facilities, programs and services used by more residents—like the beach, open space and playgrounds—and less subsidies for individual-need based facilities, programs and services—like private lessons or personal training. As part of this financial model, any Park District asset that does not achieve its goal for cost recovery is said to be in “shortfall.” That asset then goes onto a watch list and steps are taken by the Board to try and address the problems. The Golf Club has been in shortfall for more than a decade, and despite several steps over the years to try and address the problems, it currently represents about 82 percent of the cumulative shortfall to cost recovery goals of the 1,100 programs and facilities offered by the Park District. The Golf Club’s shortfall to its cost recovery goal represents the most significant shortfall of any Park District program or facility.

Q 15: What would the Park District do with funds saved by no longer subsidizing the Golf Club? Where would those funds be directed?

A: If the Board elects to stop offering and operating the Golf Club, the savings, though not generating a significant surplus, would help the Park District achieve an annual balanced budget. This would allow the Park District to properly prepare for potential state and federal mandates; maintain its current capital assets, buildings and equipment for priority improvements; meet debt obligations while being able to reissue debt to pay for capital; maintain, if not reduce, expenses; and find opportunities to expand district-wide revenue.

Q 16: If the Golf Club closes, what would happen to the land? Is it possible that it would be sold to developers?

A: Any sale of more than three acres of park district land requires a referendum of the district’s residents under Illinois law. If the Board does elect to close the Golf Club, the Board of Commissioners would direct staff to establish a process and timeline for community master planning, involving residents and other key stakeholders, regarding future use of the land. The Park District values open space and, in this scenario, community input and planning would be an essential component to research and outline potential projects that will have the greatest positive community impact and use community resources responsibly.

Q 17: Has the Board tried to implement different pricing structures to increase revenue at the Golf Club? For example, could each user pay a specified amount per year plus rental fees—similar to the Paddle Club membership—to make up the losses? Or could the Golf Club charge more for high school and collegiate team and tournament usage?

A: In 2009, the Park District raised fees in an attempt to generate more revenue. The Park District has also tested several different pricing structures, including what is called “dynamic” pricing, which is set up to automatically adjust rates up or down based on demand, availability and weather (similar to how hotels and airlines set rates and fares). These pricing initiatives have not reduced the financial burden the Golf Club has on the Park District.

Q 18: How much of the tax revenue to the Park District is used for the golf course annually?

A: In 2017, the Park District collected $780,000 in tax revenue for the Recreation Fund, of which the Golf Club is a sub-fund. In 2017, the Golf Club had a loss of $324,193, not including indirect expenses, which represents 46% of the tax receipts collected for the Recreation Fund. The Golf Club’s financial losses over the past decade have contributed to a negative Recreation Fund balance at the end of 2017.

2015-2018 Overall District Summary*

*A previous version of this file incorrectly reported the "net loss" and "adjusted net before capital and other figures for 2016.

2015-2018 Recreation Fund Summary

Q 19: Why does the Park District Commission believe that closing the Golf Club will fulfill its mission and strengthen the spirit of the Lake Bluff community?

A: The mission of the Lake Bluff Park District is to be responsible stewards of community resources, while enhancing the community through recreational experiences in a fun, safe, and healthy environment. Though we strive to meet the needs of all our constituents, the reality is that sometimes we need to discontinue programs and services for a variety of reasons such as low enrollment or participation, and/or because the program or service is disproportionally taxing our financial resources. We believe we strengthen the spirit of the community by listening and providing the types of services and programs that are used and valued by the greatest number of the people we serve and meet the priorities of the community.

Q 20: If the Park District decides to close the Golf Club, do the Commissioners expect me and others to ever vote for them in any other election?

A: When making difficult decisions, such as whether to close a 50-year-old golf club, elected Board members carefully consider the input of the public, and information and analysis from staff and outside experts. The goal is to reach a decision that’s in the best interest of the park district as a whole and the taxpayers who support it. The Board understands that not every action it takes will be embraced by all voters, and that voters may express their opinion at election time.

Q 21: Why are there no golf summer camps or activities other than lessons outlined in the Park District summer catalog or on the Golf Club website?

A: The schedule for summer golf camps is typically finalized in the spring of each year due to several reasons including coordination with course and instructor schedules. When finalized, this information will be made available at www.lakebluffgolfclub.com/improve.

Q 22: Have the Park District Commissioners had discussions with any third parties who are not involved in owning or operating golf courses about the land that the Golf Club currently occupies? If so, who?

A: The Board has been focused solely on engaging the community in the decision whether or not to close the golf club after the 2018 season. If the Board does elect to close the Golf Club, and not until that point, the Board of Commissioners would direct staff to establish a process and timeline for community master planning, involving residents and other key stakeholders, regarding future use of the land. The Park District values open space and, in this scenario, community input and planning would be an essential component to research and outline potential projects that will have the greatest positive community impact and use community resources responsibly.

Q 23: What covenants, conditions, and restrictions are there currently on the Golf Club land? Also, what is the land zoned for as a permitted use?

A: While the parcels are subject to certain easements, the Park District has identified only one restrictive covenant. That document is a 1999 Landbanking Restrictive Covenant which required the Park District to build and maintain 249 paved off-street parking spaces and land bank space for 124 additional parking spaces adjacent to the Recreation Center. The agreement runs with the land for 100 years. Consequently, unless the District has already constructed those 124 additional parking spaces, the restrictive covenant remain in place. Under the terms of the Restrictive Covenant, the Village of Lake Bluff is given the right to construct the additional parking spaces or seek enforcement of the Covenant in court if the Park District does not build the additional parking spaces if it is determined that the spaces are necessary. The land is zoned “Residential,” and if substantial changes are approved for the land and/or structures, the Park District is required to obtain a Special Use Permit through the Village of Lake Bluff. The Park District is in support of the Village of Lake Bluff’s efforts to change the zoning of Park District land to a Recreational, Institutional and Open Space District zoning classification. In addition, approximately 50 percent of the Golf Club is in a flood way and flood plain. Any sale of more than three acres of park district land requires a referendum of the district’s residents under Illinois law.

Q 24: What is the plan if the Golf Course is closed? What are the ongoing costs that remain?

A: If the Board does elect to close the Golf Club, the Board of Commissioners would direct staff to establish a process and timeline for community planning involving residents and other key stakeholders. The Park District values open space and, in this scenario, community input and planning would be essential to any plans regarding future use of the land. In this scenario, ongoing costs would include Golf Club debt and lease payments, unemployment costs, commodities expenses due to larger area being maintained, ongoing utility costs for the clubhouse and some necessary continuing personnel costs.

Q 25: What are the P&L’s for each facility/activity? (Pool, Platform, Beach, Golf, etc.)

A: This information for our approximately 1,100 programs and facilities is available on our website and can be found in the following documents:

2015-2018 Overall District Summary*

*A previous version of this file incorrectly reported the "net loss" and "adjusted net before capital and other figures for 2016.

2015-2018 Recreation Fund Summary

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Q 26: In your presentation you state that 8.1 percent of Park District residents use the Golf Club. What is this percentage based on?

A: This number represents the number of Lake Bluff residents who are annual unique users of the Lake Bluff Golf Club. In other words, from about 8,000 total residents of Lake Bluff, 8-10 percent, or 650-800 residents, use the Golf Club each year. This figure is based on customer data from the point of sale system at the Golf Club.

Q 27: Is your analysis on being fiscally responsible solely confined to the operating cash flow of the Golf Club? If so, will every facility, program and other offering be evaluated on the same basis? Where are the details for all of these other offerings over the same 12-year horizon being used to evaluate the Golf Club?

A: The Park District Board worked with independent third-party consultants to analyze all programs, facilities and services with a focus on how each one fits into the bigger picture of the Park District as a whole. Every single program, facility and service was evaluated. Please feel free to download the Lake Bluff Park District 2017 Cost of Services Study for the full details and analysis.

Q 28: How many acres in total are there that comprise the Lake Bluff Golf Club?

A: The Park District estimates the Golf Club to be approximately 160 acres.

Q 29: How many acres of the Lake Bluff Golf Club are in the flood plain?

A: About 42 percent, or 67 acres, of the Lake Bluff Golf Club is located in a flood way and flood plain.

Q 30: Q: Can a map of the Lake Bluff Golf Club which has the flood plain marked be provided?

A: To view the map: click here

Q 31: It was stated that 80 percent of rounds played were by non-residents. Has the Park District considered potential benefits of reducing nonresident fees to better align with resident fees to possibly enhance the number of rounds played by nonresidents?

A: The Park District has tried better aligning non-resident and resident fees in an effort to generate more revenue for the Golf Club. In fact, all current dynamic-priced rounds are the same fee for residents and non-residents. Non-residents are charged $3.00 more on all regular daily fees and $2.00 more on riding cart fees. This pricing initiative has not reduced the financial burden the Golf Club has on the Park District.

Q 32: Golf round data presented during the meeting indicated that approximately 20 percent of Lake Bluff residents use the golf course vs. nonresident. Handout information also provided during the meeting stated that only 10 percent of residents use the Golf Club. How did the board determine these statistics? Lake Bluff Park District 2017 Community-Wide Survey information available on the website shows that approximately 41 percent of the residents responding use and/or have visited the Golf Club. Please clarify this apparent discrepancy in course use statistics.

A: The Park District estimates there are about 3,700 households in the Lake Bluff Park District. According to the 2017 Community-Wide Survey results, about 40 percent of respondents reported that someone in their household used or visited the Golf Club in the previous two years. aQity Research & Insights states that roughly 1,480 households reported someone in their household used or visited the Golf Club in the previous two years. The annual self-reported usage is likely lower, given that some may have used the Golf Club once during that time, and not each year. Additionally, this self-reported usage can include avid golfers who regularly use the facility, as well as those who have been there only once in two years. Therefore, aQity stated that it is unlikely to assume that 40 percent of households in the Park District have member(s) who are avid or regular users of the Golf Club. Based on customer data from the point of sale system at the Golf Club, the Park District knows that, on average, there are about 650-800 residents of the Park District’s approximately 8,000 total residents (8-10 percent) who use the Golf Club each year, and that residents account for about 20 percent of the total rounds played.

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Q 33: Has the Park District considered the use of the course by the non-golfing community (walking, running, skiing, snow shoeing, etc.)? Do these residents count in the 10 percent that use the course?

A: Based on customer data from the point of sale system at the Golf Club, about 650-800 residents of the Park District’s approximately 8,000 total residents (8-10 percent) actually golf at the Golf Club each year. The Board and staff know that in addition to golfers, residents use the Golf Club property for other recreational activities. The Park District’s philosophy is to protect open space and, in a scenario where the Board elects to stop offering and operating the Golf Club, community input and planning would be essential to any plans regarding future use of the land.

Q 34: Having read the two articles I could find on this subject, I'm wondering what changed between 2015 when closing the course wasn't an option, and now when closing the course seems to be a main option?

A: In 2015, the Park District sent out a Request for Proposal (RFP) to solicit bids for third-party management and/or lease proposals and was not considering halting the Golf Club’s operations at that time. The Park District ultimately selected Billy Casper Golf in an attempt to make the Golf Club operation more financially sustainable. Over two years, this approach did not achieve the cost-recovery objectives sought by the Board. With Billy Casper’s contract ending at the end of the 2018 season, and the impending decision of whether to approve the allocation of $2.7 million in capital needs for the Golf Club over the next 12 years, including about $1 million for necessary clubhouse repairs in 2019, the Board is engaging the community on the question of whether the Park District should continue to offer and operate the Golf Club.

Q 35: Lake Forest has done fundraisers and engaged the community, where Lake Bluff has not. Would these be options?

A: The Park District has not made any direct efforts to fund raise or seek a major donor for the Golf Club.

Q 36: Would raising non-resident prices be an option?

A: In 2009, the Park District raised all fees in an attempt to generate more revenue. The Park District has also tested several different pricing structures, including what is called “dynamic” pricing, which is set up to automatically adjust rates up or down based on demand, availability and weather (similar to how hotels and airlines set rates and fares). All current dynamic-priced rounds are the same fee for residents and non-residents. Non-residents are charged $3.00 more on all regular daily fees and $2.00 more on riding cart fees. These pricing initiatives have not reduced the financial burden the Golf Club has on the Park District.

Q 37: I find it hard to believe that the Golf clubhouse is in need of $2 million worth of work (I heard this on the 'streets', and it must be a crazy rumor). That being said, has the Park District shopped around? What about bringing in an outside business to run the kitchen/restaurant area?

A: To clarify, the Park District has identified $2.7 in capital needs for the Golf Club as a whole over the next 12 years, which includes about $1 million for necessary clubhouse repairs in 2019. The Golf clubhouse needs extensive repairs, including work to bring it into compliance with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). In 2016, the Park District contracted Chicago-based FGM Architects to provide construction cost estimates for this ADA work. These cost estimates can be found here. Information regarding all projected capital projects, including those identified for the Golf Club, can be found here.

Q 38: It was suggested that modifications to the existing clubhouse are needed for ADA compliance. A cost estimate was given for those modifications. Can the Park District provide a listing of modifications deemed necessary for ADA compliance and basis for the cost estimate? Were local contractors contacted to discuss these? Also, some discussion was given regarding renovation needed at Golf Club maintenance facilities. Can the Park District clarify what costs are pending at those facilities and when?

A: Information regarding all projected capital projects, including those mentioned in this inquiry, can be found here in the Golf Clubhouse ADA Estimates and here in the Golf Course Capital Needs Report.

Q 39: Is there a timeline for a decision from the Board on the question of whether the Park District will continue to offer and operate the Lake Bluff Golf Club past 2018?

A: The Park District Board plans to discuss the question at its regular Board meeting on Monday, March 19. The Board will not be voting at this meeting, only discussing the question and the input it has received from the community. Lake Bluff residents will have the opportunity to make three-minute statements at the meeting before the Board discussion. The actual Board vote could take place as early as the regular Lake Bluff Park District Board meeting on April 16.

Q 40: Can the residents of Lake Bluff get assurance in the form of a written statement from the board stating that if Lake Bluff Golf Course is closed that no one on the board will be allowed to be involved in any type of development at the property?

A: Section 4.1 of the Board Policy Manual states that if a Lake Bluff Park District Commissioner has “an unavoidable conflict of interest, that Commissioner must disclose the interest, and recuse him/herself from all discussion, deliberation and vote regarding the issue, as required by applicable state and federal law.” If the Board does elect to close the Golf Club, and no other entity expresses interest in operating the Golf Club on its current property, the question of how the land would then be used will be decided through an intensive and comprehensive community planning process involving residents and other key stakeholders. In keeping with section 4.1, any commissioner with a conflict would recuse him/herself from that process.

Q 41: Does the current Golf Club staff perform any remediation activity during periods of flooding—including clearing of storm water runoff drains, diversion, etc.? If so, how would this work be performed if the course is closed?

A: The Park District does perform remediation activities during periods of flooding. On the property, there are several pumps which automatically begin pumping water back into the Skokie River when flooding occurs. Staff members place additional pumps on the property to expedite this process. If the Board does elect to close the Golf Club, and no other entity expresses interest in operating the Golf Club on its current property, these remediation activities would remain.

Q 42: In your Option #5 for Projected Park District Net Cash Flow 2018-2029 in your Facts About the Lake Bluff Golf Club and its Future (Slide 14)—are there any costs budgeted to return the Golf Club into its natural state (removal of the clubhouse, removal of greens and tee boxes, etc.)?

A: The model used in Option #5 (Park District without the Golf Club) includes reduction of key personnel positions, adjustments to district-wide capital needs, reissuance of debt to pay for capital needs, the use of all capital reserves, the use of the Golf Clubhouse for storage only and eventual demolition, moving park maintenance operations to the golf maintenance building and vacating the park maintenance building located near public works and two Park District staff members to mow the property. In this model, grass on the Golf Club greens and tee boxes would be mowed and maintained at the same height as the rest of the property.

Q 43: Are the figures in the March 1, 2018 story “Lake Bluff Ponders Golf Course Future” attributed to Ron Salski—that 93 percent of the residents use the beach and 87.5 percent use the pool—accurate? If so, are these percentages really the amount of the 8,000 Park District residents or is another measure being used?

A: The article should state that Lake Bluff Residents represent 93 percent of users at the beach and 87 percent of users at the pool. Thank you for bringing this to the Park District’s attention. Staff will reach out to the reporter to offer a correction.

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Q 44: How is it that Deerpath is committing $4 million – $1.1 million this year – to upgrade that golf course, and we are losing money?

A: For any information regarding the Deerpath Golf Course, we’d encourage you to contact the City of Lake Forest. For financial details regarding the Lake Bluff Golf Club: Click here to view the comparison of actual to projected Golf Club financial results (last 12 years actual vs. next 12 years projected). Click here to view the Lake Bluff Park District projected district-wide net cash flow 2018-2029 (12-Year Summary).

Q 45: What has been done to decrease administrative costs and renegotiate debt?

A: The Board and staff have decreased administrative costs at the Golf Club significantly over the past decade. In 2008, the Park District began a comprehensive evaluation of Golf Club operations and maintenance. In 2009, the Park District completed a district wide comprehensive staff restructuring plan. This resulted in eliminating one full-time golf operations position and transitioning three full-time golf maintenance positions to seasonal. In 2010, the Park District reduce operating expenses by $90,000. In 2015 as part of the Park District’s Strategic Plan, the Board directed staff to reduce the annual Golf Club losses by $150,000. In 2016, the Park District hired Billy Casper Golf to operate the Golf Club, reduced maintenance costs and restructured and reduced staff. None of these initiatives have meaningfully impacted the financial impact the Golf Club has on the Park District. In 2013, the Board spent significant time negotiating with banks to move non-callable debt to callable and reduce interest rates.

Q 46: Who owns the land that the golf club is on and are all documents from the founding of the Village on this property available to view and if so, where?

A: The land is owned by the Park District. The property was acquired through purchase and/or condemnation. Documents associated with the property are stored on-site at the Park District.

Q 47: Has the Park District board done any planning based on an assumption of the golf course remaining open after 2018, or is the board's planning only focused on the golf course closing after 2018?

A: Yes, the Board utilized Billy Casper Golf to provide five 12-year Golf Club financial forecasts. Four of these forecasts accounted for the golf course remaining open. Sikich, LLP, reviewed these forecasts. This outlook information can be found here.

Q 48: How can we get additional time to tap into the expertise and passion of the community to help with the issue?

A: In addition to the input we’ve been receiving since February 26, Lake Bluff residents will have the opportunity to make three-minute statements at the regular Board meeting Monday, March 19, before the commissioners begin discussing the issue at that meeting. The Board will be discussing the input it has received from the community and developing a timeline for a decision

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Q 49: Is the board confident it has considered every possible option / model to make the Golf Club a success?

A: The Board plans to discuss this question at its regular Board meeting on Monday, March 19.

Q 50: Does the board believe the current management has done everything possible to make Lake Bluff golf club a success? Please note the comments at the public meeting about the substandard marketing, customer service, website, after school programs etc.

A: The Board plans to include these items when it discusses the question at its regular Board meeting on Monday, March 19.

Q 51: What alternative models has the board considered for the golf club facility?

A: The Board worked with a third-party accounting firm to generate district-wide financial projections for five alternative models over the next 12 years. That information can be found on slide 14 of this presentation, and a more detailed analysis is available here.

Q 52: Will the board provide residents with an alternative proposition for the Golf Club site prior to a decision on the future of golf?

A: The Board has been focused solely on engaging the community in the decision of whether the Park District should continue to offer and operate the Golf Club. If the Board does elect to close the Golf Club, and no other entity expresses interest in operating the Golf Club on its current property, the question of how the land would then be used will be decided through an intensive and comprehensive community planning process involving residents and other key stakeholders. The Park District’s philosophy is to protect open space and, if the Board elects to stop offering and operating the Golf Club, community input and planning would be essential regarding any future use of the land.

Q 53: In order to ensure the integrity of the land will the board support re-zoning the golf course site prior to a decision to close the course?

A: The Park District is in support of the Village of Lake Bluff’s efforts to change the zoning of Park District land to a Recreational, Institutional and Open Space District zoning classification.

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Q 54: What are the other needs in the park district community not being met and sacrificed for the Golf Club subsidy? If the Golf Club closes, what other projects would have the potential to be funded?

A: A 2017 Lake Bluff community-wide survey shows strong community interest in and use of the beach, open space, trails and the Fitness Center; assets which also have capital needs. If the Board elects to stop offering and operating the Golf Club, the savings, though not generating a significant surplus, would help the Park District achieve an annual balanced budget and provide some funding for these district-wide capital projects. The savings would also allow the Park District to properly prepare for potential state and federal mandates; maintain its current capital assets, buildings and equipment for priority improvements; meet debt obligations while being able to reissue debt to pay for capital; maintain, if not reduce, expenses; and find opportunities to expand district-wide revenue.

Q 55: While the golf rates are meant to be reasonable, have you taken into account that many residents cannot afford to take up the sport or enjoy it as a family? Parks, walking paths, beach, sledding hill, are accessible to all. The Golf Club fees make it exclusive to only those who can afford the luxury.

A: While the Park District would like to make all of its offerings free to Lake Bluff residents, and does everything possible to make them affordable, all park districts must make decisions about what programs and services require a fee in order to be sustainable. These typically are those that are more expensive to run and maintain. Golf clubs are among the more expensive facilities because their operation and maintenance are very labor intensive.

Q 56: Upon closure of the golf club, would the Park District consider lowering the tax percentage needed and thus reduce the tax burden to residents?

A: The Park District Board has been solely focused on engaging the community on the question of whether the Park District should continue to offer and operate the Golf Club. The Board has not discussed any tax reductions related to this impending decision.

Q 57: How much is the average family spending a year to subsidize the golf course?

A: The Park District has not specifically calculated amount of subsidization per family per year for the Golf Club, but has provided a financial summary of the past 12 years linked here. Over the past 12 years, the Golf Club has incurred a net loss of $3.486 million, excluding indirect expenses which have ranged from $75,000-$100,000 per year over the past 12 years. The Park District estimates there are currently about 3,700 households in the Lake Bluff Park District.

Q 58: What do you say to those who are fed up with subsidizing cheap golf for non-residents? Is this fair to the rest of the community’s needs?

A: Like most park district golf clubs, the Lake Bluff Golf Club is open to non-residents who pay a higher fee than residents, though less than they would pay at most private golf clubs. Analysis by Park District staff and outside consultants show that raising fees for non-residents would not significantly reduce the golf club’s financial impact on the Park District. Limiting the golf club to residents only also would not benefit the Park District financially.

Q 59: In the projected cash flow that is showing millions of dollars of loss unless the Golf Club is closed, there is a requirement for more than $7.5 million in capital. The 10-year plan done in 2013 calls for only $2.5 million in capital needs, including all ADA needs. If $2.5 million is used in the cash flow model, there is not a loss on the bottom line. Please explain.

A: The 2013 Capital Plan Task Force Final Report, linked here, identified $2.512 million in capital expenses for 2013-2024 (Exhibit 3) for the Golf Club only. The $7.586 million capital expenses identified in the Projected District-Wide Cash Flow Summary, linked here, addresses capital expenses for the entire district, beyond just the Golf Club. In Option number 5, without golf after the 2018 golf season, the Park District has identified $2.731MM in capital needs that would be eliminated. A full breakdown of the capital needs identified for the Golf Club from 2018-2029 is linked here.

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