Park Forest Moves Hidden Meadows Redevelopment To Comprehensive Plan

Hidden Meadows Karen Kleine
Hidden Meadows Golf Course. (Photo: Karen Kleine)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The Village Board Monday bumped up redevelopment of the former Hidden Meadows golf club, making it part of the town’s comprehensive plan.

The move signals a serious effort on the part of the Village to move on the 72 acres, making the area friendly for housing and retail, targeting students at Governors State University as well as residents in the south end of town.

The Village of Park Forest currently owns and controls the former Hidden Meadows Golf Course located at the northeast corner of Crawford and Stuenkel Road.

The Hidden Meadows Conceptual Redevelopment Plan states:

The course was closed in 2006 and the Village began the process of exploring a reuse of the site. Following the downturn in the economy and the real estate market, redevelopment plans were put on hold. While the market has not returned to where it was in 2006 or 2007, the Village is taking a proactive approach to reassessing the development potential of the site. While a key consideration is getting property on the tax rolls, it is equally important that a new use can act as a com­munity amenity and a catalyst for additional development.

In the proposed tax levy for fiscal year 2016-2017, 56% of the operating revenue will come from property taxes. This is up from the 2007-08 budget when 46% of the operating budget came from property taxes.

Park Forest has been in a race to decrease its reliance on property taxes for operations since the decline of the original Park Forest Plaza.

The task has not been easy.

Many residents in the Village have high property taxes, the majority percentage of which are from the five school districts that envelop Park Forest. Relief from this burden will only come when the state of Illinois finally, one day, begins to fund public schools as it should. The time is long past when Springfield should raise the income tax, targeting the added revenue for schools. For school funding.

With the gridlock in Springfield, that seems far from likely.

Nevertheless, residents often target Village government for solutions to their high property tax bills, in spite of the fact that the majority of the property tax bill is generated by school districts.

School districts are not an easy target, as their meetings are often not publicly televised. Their levies are not as clear, at times.

And their bonds often pass unnoticed, hardly covered in the “major” press.

Yet their taxes continue to suck us dry.

I’m not saying that Park Forest taxes are low. Not saying that at all.

And I know that some, perhaps former, friends on Tamarack Street, envisioned an eternity when they would have a golf course to their north, and to their south.

But that promise, if it ever existed, was never found on paper. Never found in a contract. Never found at all.

The redevelopment effort lives on.