A pact to transfer club ownership from the City of Highland Park to the Park District of Highland Park after the city bonds used to purchase the facility are retired in 2014 is spurring talks between the organizations. The park district has asked the city to extend the agreement until 2015, after a proper review of profit-and-loss figures.
Before entering the next phase of talks with the city over a planned transfer in 2014, Highland Park district commissioners are requesting profit-and-loss figures for Highland Park (Ill.) Country Club, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
In 1996, the City of Highland Park and the Park District of Highland Park entered into a pact for the club to be turned over to the park district after the city bonds used to purchase the facility were retired. The agreement came after the city purchased the club for $10 million, the Sun-Times reported.
Now, the park board faces a few weighty decisions.
“Do we continue to operate two golf courses and if we close one, which one?” said Park District Director Liza McElroy during the board’s October 25 meeting.
The park district operates its own 18-hole Sunset Valley Golf Course, while the city uses a private management firm to run the 18-hole course at the country club. McElroy said the park district asked the city to extend the agreement until 2015, the Sun-Times reported.
“If we decide to close one of the two golf courses, what is the new use going to be?” Commissioner Cal Bernstein asked. “I think it would be beneficial to get a task force and panel to assist us in those decisions. I don’t think we are going to be in a position to give the city an answer, yes or no, until we go through this process.”
The larger decision of whether to assume control of the country club, said President Scott Meyers, is separate from the question of involving two golf courses, the Sun-Times reported.
“Let’s get the financials so we understand the implications of taking over the country club,” said Meyers, noting that the board needs to see revenue and expense figures, as well as projections of capital needs. “There is also the philosophical issue of whether the park district wants to be in the catering and party-planning business. My understanding is that when you factor out the debt, there is a profit.”
That profit, he added, is largely attributable to catering and event planning, not golf operations, the Sun-Times reported.
If the park board takes over the country club but does not operate it as a golf course, that would open the potential to other uses, McElroy said.
“That building provides a lot of flexibility. That becomes a piece of the puzzle,” she said.
The park district now has the financial information needed to move forward, McElroy said, and the information is to be shared with park commissioners before a park-city task force that was formed to address the transfer is reconvened in November , the Sun-Times reported.store