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Cook forest preserve buying farm, largest purchase since '60s

A Barrington horse farm, purchased this week for $14.5 million, is the largest single land acquisition made by the Cook County Forest Preserve District in decades, an official said Tuesday.

Horizon Farms, a 397-acre chunk of land at 311 Algonquin Road, had been in foreclosure since last August, said Don Parker, a spokesman for the forest preserve district.

At some point, the property caught the eye of county officials, who moved quickly to buy it, said Parker. On Monday, Cook County Judge Daniel P. Brennan approved the sale of the land to the forest preserve district, which had not made a single purchase of land that size since 1968, Parker added.

“We had to move quick on this foreclosure to ensure that it wouldn’t be developed by other interested buyers,” Parker said, explaining the relatively quick turnaround on the property, which was purchased with money earmarked for land acquisitions.

Parker said the forest preserve district has no specific plans for the site yet. Now that the purchase has been approved, the forest preserve district will collect public input on how the site should be used, he said.

The property will initially be closed to the public pending a site assessment.

The farm is close — but not adjacent — to the county’s Spring Creek Forest Preserve and Crabtree Forest Preserve, Parker said.

Money to buy the farm will be paid for with funds set aside in the forest preserve’s real estate acquisition fund, Parker said.