Disputing golf course impact on nature

 

To the Editor:

We write in response to the recent letter “Addressing Nature Sanctuary Misinformation.”  It asserts that the proposed construction of a PGA-level golf course in Jackson Park and South Shore would not “eliminate” the South Shore Nature Sanctuary and that to say otherwise is “misinformation.”   We are obliged to differ.

In fact, the current design for the expanded pro-type golf course would completely obliterate about a fourth of the current acreage of the natural area, converting the segment of the nature sanctuary adjacent to the lakeshore into a fairway and green for “money hole” number 15.   To compensate for this destruction, the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance proposes the development of four new acres of natural plantings, to be situated in narrow spaces between the fairways for Holes 13, 16 and 17.

For those (non-golfers and golfers alike) who enjoy the tranquility and beauty of the nature sanctuary, this is a non-starter.  The most distinctive section of the nature sanctuary – where the pathway follows the shoreline and two well used council rings offer places for camaraderie and contemplation – would be erased, and what remains would be circumscribed on three sides by golfing activity. The “replacement” spaces between fairways would inspire fear of bodily harm from errant golf balls rather than relaxation and rejuvenation.

As we and many others have stated before, the Jackson Park and South Shore golf courses deserve improvement, but the current expansive and expensive plan targeted at pro golfers is not the way to go.  Instead, any renovation should address the needs and aspirations of local golfers and non-golfers alike who rely on South Shore and Jackson Park for other forms of recreation and relaxation as well as golf.

Sincerely,

Brenda Nelms and Margaret Schmid

Co-presidents, Jackson Park Watch