To the Editor:
We write in response to the recent “Time to invest in S. Side golf” letter in support of the proposal to merge the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses to create a PGA-level course. Here are some troublesome facts that the author neglected to mention:
- First and foremost, the author neglects to note that the proposed plan cannot be realized without extensive infrastructure work – underpasses, shoreline restoration, road changes – and that work will be funded entirely by taxpayers. The initial estimate for the work on the golf course itself was $30 million, of which $25 million was to come from private sources. The initial estimate for just a portion of the infrastructure work was $58 million, all public funds.
- Second, the proposed layout would actually expand the footprint for golf in the two parks and, in the process, would eliminate soccer and baseball fields, a dog park, a picnic area by the beach, a horse riding rink, and a beautiful nature sanctuary much loved and heavily used by community residents. The author claims that golf is a sport that creates “nature sanctuaries,” but fails to understand that the South Shore nature area is a sanctuary for people, and those who now visit it regularly will not find solace and renewal while dodging flying balls in scattered plantings between fairways.
- Finally, more than two years after this project was announced with great fanfare and many promises by then-Mayor Rahm Emanuel, the Park District has yet to provide very basic but essential information. Where is the independent assessment to support the hyperbolic claims for economic benefits to the South Shore community? Where is the business plan that would indicate this new course would be economically viable in the long term at a time when participation in golf is contracting and public courses across the country are closing? Where is the information about fees and tee times for local golfers?
We agree that the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses should be improved, but the current expansive and expensive plan is not the way to go.
Brenda Nelms and
Jackson Park Watch