LETTERS: Current South Side public golf courses far from ‘good enough’

SHARE LETTERS: Current South Side public golf courses far from ‘good enough’

The South Shore Nature Sanctuary is the best-kept secret in the city. But now the sanctuary is at the center of a controversy that could pit one group of community members against another group. | Photo by Kathryn Sjursen

The Sun-Times missed the mark in its July 30 editorial about the South Shore and Jackson Park Golf Courses.

The three of us, who voluntarily visited with the editorial board to discuss this project, have spent years living in and serving this community. We held the appropriate skepticism at first. However, following many conversations, dozens of public meetings, asking hard questions and reviewing evolving plans, we believe this project will be a big lift to our community. The parks will remain accessible to residents and the golf course will be more enjoyable for players of all skill levels.

Most concerning, the editorial, in our view, implies that the current South Side courses are good enough despite evidence offered that the courses are tired remnants of a bygone era including minuscule fairways and greens, rock and mud-filled sand traps and frequent flooding. The editorial questions that there isn’t a need for — in its words — “a big, fancy course.” Really? Why not?

SEND LETTERS TO: letters@suntimes.com. Please include your neighborhood or hometown and a phone number for verification purposes.

As users of these courses and parks, as well as residents of the surrounding community, we are enthusiastic in our support for this ambitious project. Input from local golfers and non-golfing residents will continue shaping plans to foster a more active park space. Moreover, should the course offer capabilities for championship level play, we would be thrilled to showcase the beauty of the South Side’s lakefront and our neighborhoods on national TV.

Public golf has been a recreational staple in Jackson Park, since 1899. This is not a plan to “tear up” the golf courses, rather to save them for generations to follow, providing the quality golf experience the South Side deserves just as much as any area of the city would expect.

Harry Gilliam, Director of the Jackson Park Golf Association and Golf Instructor; Jerry Levy, member of the Jackson Park Advisory Council and Volunteer Steward for Jackson Park’s Wooded Island; Cheryl Mainor, avid golfer and Jackson Park/South Shore resident and business owner

Jackson Park Watch is right, we need answers

I am a bird watcher who frequently uses Jackson Park and the La Rabida Hospital areas and whole heartily agree with the position of the Jackson Park Watch. Consequently, I am requesting that the following three courses of action happen as soon as possible:

  1. Release all financial information needed to assess the feasibility and viability of the project,
  2. Release the projected greens fees and other pricing for the first five years of the new course’s operation – data essential to assessing your pledge to keep the course affordable and accessible for local golfers, and
  3. Right-size the dimensions of the proposed new golf course to go back to within the footprints of the current courses so as to preserve the existing recreational facilities and natural areas.

This area does not need a music pavilion in the park that is/was being contemplated for south of the Columbia Basin and immediately north of the Paul Douglas Wooded Island Nature Preserve. The nature preserve and Japanese garden with the Yoko Ono sculpture is dependent for enjoyment on being relatively quiet in the area.

The Obama Presidential Center plus the golf course — if it goes through with community input and large buy-in — is more than enough changes for the park area. Even more so with significant increases in traffic due to expected roads closures and other construction delays.

Kathy Noerenberg, Western Springs

Friends of the Parks deserve Chicago’s thanks

A Letter to the Editor from Friday criticized Friends of the Parks as an “exclusive clique” and claimed the group “sabotaged the Lucas Museum, a billion-dollar gift to the city.” From all the newspaper reports I’ve read, the lakefront land that Lucas wanted for his museum would indeed have been a gift, one from the city to Lucas. Also, if the museum was really such a “gift,” why did San Francisco turn it down not once, but twice? Keep in mind this is the same San Francisco that is home to Lucasfilm’s marketing, online and licensing units. I don’t think I’m the only Chicago-area resident who thinks the Friends of the Park should be thanked, not disparaged, for saying “no, thank you” to that particular “gift.”

Christine Craven, Evergreen Park

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