MWRD places Canal Shores Easement on Agenda for Thursday 10/18

We have learned that the easement for the Keefe property ( a proposed 60 X 300 foot county road on the Canal Shores 10th hole) ... will be on the agenda for this Thursday's meeting of the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD) commissioners.

The agenda item reads ...

"This item is listed as Item #47 (File #18-1090)  Authority to grant to the County of Cook a 75-year, approximately 60’ x 300’, non-exclusive easement to construct, install, operate, maintain, repair, and remove a public road across the western portion of North Shore Channel Parcel 1.08, south of Maple Avenue in Wilmette, Illinois."

The agenda is here.

If you wish to express an opinion about the easement it is probably best to call or write the MWRD commissioners before the meeting.  Citizens For Greener Evanston (CGE) published the following contact info.

Individual Emails:

Mariyana T. Spyropoulos


(312) 751-5650

Barbara J. McGowan

Vice President

(312) 751-5640

Frank Avila

Chairman of Finance

(312) 751-5620

Kenneth Dunkin


(312) 751-5465

Martin J. Durkan


(312) 751-5490

Josina Morita


(312) 751-5080

Debra Shore


(312) 751-5690

Kari K. Steele


(312) 751-5694

David J. Walsh


(312) 751-5701

CGE published a suggested email (below in italics) for those opposed to the easement:
Please REJECT the Cook County Highway Department request for a road through Canal Shores Golf Course (MWRD property) to Wilmette land planned for development. The proposed road would run from Maple Avenue in Wilmette to private property near Isabella Woods.  
The Road Proposal:

  • Takes public lands for private development
  • Contravenes MWRD mission to reduce stormwater runoff and MWRD policy to preserve natural area along the North Shore Channel north of Devon.
  • Provides no net public benefit.  Any new property taxes would be offset by decreasing the property value for the seven houses along the east side of Golf Terrace.  In addition, taxpayers will have to build and maintain this new road.  
  • Is overreach. The property owner should focus on a driveway for 1-2 houses, and not a road that would support 4-5 houses.  There have been homes for sale along Golf Terrace to use for driveway access. At this moment a house bordering the Keefe property is for sale.  
  • Uses the Highway Dept as a political work-around to reduce input from Wilmette Park District and Canal Shores Golf Course.  Would the Highway Dept would use its authority to cut into and diminish public lands if there were no political connection?
  • Could be a precedent.  Can others in future take public lands for private development if they want to build homes?  Will the Highway Dept and MWRD help them build homes in parks if it could generate property taxes?
  • Destroys the 10thHole on Canal Shores Golf Course.  This area is a focal point for a visionary restoration plan that Canal Shores is spearheading.  Canal Shores seeks to make the area more than a golf course, to become a Cook County destination for walkers, bicyclists, and birders as well as golfers.

Public green space, wetlands and old trees are so limited, we have to protect the little we have.  Wetlands hold stormwater and provide critical habitat for migratory birds and other wildlife.  Evanston and Wilmette residents, dog walkers, bird watchers, golfers and others enjoy the course, and oppose the road request.  Please say No.  Continue to protect our public lands.  

Thank you for your continued attention to this matter.
Respectfully submitted.


CGE has also provided some background about the context of the current proposal:

Not sure what this is about?
A private property owner, Dick Keefe Development Company, seeks to develop property between Isabella Woods in Evanston and Golf Terrace in Wilmette.  

To enhance the value of the development, the Keefes have tried for years to build a road to the property.  In addition to the Keefe interest in the development company, llinois Senator John Cullerton has disclosed on his Senate economic interest forms that he holds a certificate of ownership in Dick Keefe Development Company.

The Metropolitan Water Reclamation District (MWRD), Evanston and Wilmette all have said NO to road proposals. The Keefes sued Wilmette and Evanston over various aspects of his proposals. Dick Keefe Development bought the land aware that there was no road access, and presumably paid less because there is no road access.  

Although a driveway can serve 1-2 houses. Wilmette requires emergency vehicle access if, for example, 4-5 houses would be developed. The Keefes seek a road.

Most recently, in 2017 Joseph Keefe requested an easement across Isabella Woods in Evanston that would substantially destroy the remnant oak woods. MWRD, which owns Isabella Woods as well as the golf course, rejected the Isabella Woods road request.  

In April, 2018, Mr. Keefe presented this new proposal to Canal Shores Golf Course: seeking a road from Maple Avenue to the Keefe property through the golf course.  On April 17, 2018, Canal Shores said No.  Now the Keefe Development Company has asked the Cook County Highway Department to submit the request to MWRD, cutting Wilmette out of the decision process.

We will keep you posted as this develops.