Football Parking

Tonight there was a meeting at the American Legion hall on Central Street to hear about plans by the Board of the Frank Govern Memorial Golf Course (formerly Peter Jans and also affectionately known as Canal Shores) to request a permit from the city to park up to 300 cars on two areas of the golf course during football season.

The Board estimates that this will be for from 4 to 6 games. The cars would be parked on hole #9 south of Isabella and west of the canal and hole #18 west of the CTA tracks and east of the canal between Central and Lincoln.

They are promising to have portable restrooms at each

location, off duty police, and will not allow tailgating.

The claim is the course is having a tough time and needs additional funds to help with expenses. Once things turn around for the course they claim they will do away with the parking. Ha! Once they get a taste of the extra money it will be hard to turn down.

We have recently spent a great deal of time and effort in crafting the Central Streen Plan and its attendant zoning that calls for the clean up of certain areas and the "greening" of others. I fail to see how parking cars on the golf course moves further along that continuum.

The only thing this will do is move cars that now have to park further out (say at the NW lots on the lakefront) closer in.

Should this be approved I believe it will also set a bad precedent. Others with large parcels will also seek approval to turn their "lawns" into parking lots for a quick buck.

Present from the City at the meeting were alderpersons Liz Tisdahl, Cheryl Wolin, and Doug Gaynor from Parks and Rec.

I believe they will be moving quickly on this. I think there is only one city council meeting in August and they are trying to get this in place for this season. I suspect this may show up in the agenda for July 28, 2008.

I don't know how the course thinks they will come out ahead on this deal. They have to pay for security, portable toilets, clean up, and the restoration of the course after 300 cars drive over it; especially if it is one of those wet and rainy Saturday games.

I believe this to be not in keeping with the spirit and intent of the Central Street Plan that we all worked so hard on and sets a very, very bad precedent.

If you would like to express yourself please check the agenda for the next City Council meeting and plan on attending and voicing you opinion.

Last Monday night the aldermen made an appalling decision to allow parking on the golf course for NU football games.

After all the hard work on the Central Street plan on how to keep Central Street viable and how to beautify it where needed the aldermen apparently think that parking cars on the golf course will beautify Central Street! Can you say "out of touch with reality"?

The proposal presented to the public at the American Legion Hall was for four games and two holes on the course for parking. As it was presented to City Council it was for five games and three holes. That blatant misrepresentation apparently did not cause any of the aldermen consternation.

At the meeting I had suggested that if they were going to approve it, the permit fee should be in the $20K to $25K range. I would be interested to see what the actual fee charged by the city is.

I would urge one and all to closely monitor activities on the golf course during games including taking pictures during the game and of any damage to the golf course afterwards. If you note any problems, have your cell phone with you and call police immediately.

You should also let your alderman and the mayor know how displeased you are with their performance on this issue.

I thank the CSNA members who have kept up with this story.

IMHO there are so many things wrong with turning recreational green space into a surface parking lot during prime play season, in order to pack even more automobiles into the area around a stadium that is within walking distance of not one but two separate rail lines, and several bus lines (including one that stops right in front), that the mind boggles.

The decision leaves questions. Is the course still open on the 5 Saturdays that parking will be allowed? If so, do the golfers get reduced rates in consideration of holes being obstructed, or do they have to guide a 2-iron shot between the cars? Do you get a free drop if you have to retrieve a ball embedded in a windshield?

Did anyone ask the ETHS golf team, who uses this as their practice and home course, if they have a problem with cars parked there on weekends? I also wonder, will parking be allowed on turf even if it's wet? Greens and fairways don't take kindly to traffic when moist.

It's a pity that the ill-considered suggestion to confiscate university land for a new civic center location surfaced at a time when it would have been preferable to involve NU in substantive discussion about stadium parking improvements. Some of the Lakota Group's ideas on that were quite creative, but were doomed by politics.

Many golfers are telling me that the fate of the golf course depends on new revenue sources. The number of players is down. Costs are up. Maybe scare tactics are being used to suggest that the land is public and could be sold to a developer! One member of the board for the golf course suggested a tour of the property so we could see what needs fixing and what is involved - they depend on volunteers. And, we were misled. We were told in their very public literature that only two holes would be affected - now it is three. This really means more foot traffic - cars too trying to find the parking - and people seeking shortcuts through properties to get to the lots. Again, one big problem wtih the golf course, and the MWRD channel property, is maintenance generally - especially in the winter when there is no one to assure safety on the public way (ice and snow are never cleared away). And, they are apparently splitting the course into two 9-hole courses. I think we all need to learn more. This green space is why so many find our area so desirable for living, walking. I still don't know what they are charging for this. Will the expenses they will incur (they promised attendants, security, port a potties and immediately clean up) offset any potential revenue? I really wonder if this will just open the door further.