LAKE FOREST — The City of Lake Forest plans to prepare a proposal in the next 90 days to provide fire protection and ambulance services to the people currently served by the Rockland Fire Protection District, also known as the Knollwood Fire Department.
The Lake Forest City Council and Mayor Rob Lansing directed City Manager Robert Kiely Jr. and his staff to craft the proposal August 7 at City Hall detailing how the Lake Forest Fire Department will handle the combined operations.
A proposal will come to the council for a vote in approximately 90 days, according to Kiely.
Kiely said Lake Forest initiated discussions with several neighboring communities to develop sharing arrangements for fire protection to reduce costs and help make managing public safety pensions easier. He said this is the first concrete response on the effort.
In other business, the Council approved expenditures of just over $1 million each for improvements on the beach access roads and surrounding areas as well as Deerpath Golf Course.
Earlier this year, Kiely said, Knollwood asked Lake Forest to submit a bid to provide emergency medical services while it would continue to fight its own fires. At the time, it decided to renew its contract with Libertyville.
“Knollwood came back to us and asked us to respond to their (request for proposal) to take over all fire and rescue services with the district, making it a paper district,” said Kiely. Lake Forest will be competing with Libertyville for the contract.
The district is north of Lake Forest, roughly bounded by Highway 176 on the south, Highway 41 on the east, Talbot Street on the north and just east of Bradley Road on the west near the Tri-State Tollway, according to Kiely.
The proposal must ensure there is no diminished service to Lake Forest, be sustainable well into the future, provide for future growth for all served, incorporate all personnel including volunteers currently serving Knollwood, and be equitable to Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and Knollwood, according to Kiely.
Lake Forest currently provides ambulance service to Lake Bluff, according to Kiely. The village handles its own fire protection through the Lake Bluff Fire Department, which is a volunteer operation.
“It’s important we take Lake Bluff into the calculations,” said Alderman Stanford Tack. “That’s important.”
Along with the other requirements, resources of all fire departments involved must be taken into account. Kiely acknowledged the future of Knollwood’s fire station on Skokie Highway near Route 176 is uncertain.
“The longterm future of Route 176 and Highway 41 does not bode well for the future of that fire station,” said Kiely.
While Kiely said police protection for the Knollwood area comes from the Lake County Sheriff and the area is not a municipality, he acknowledged the concerns expressed by Alderman Raymond Buschmann that there is a sense of community around the Knollwood area.
“There is going to be some pushback,” said Kiely. “We are going to have to be sensitive to that. It has to be feasible for us and for them.”
Alderman Jack Reisenberg said there are benefits for everyone in what he considers a sign of the future.
“This is certainly evolutionary, not revolutionary,” said Reisenberg. “It could provide job security for our firefighters.”
Council Approves Drainage, Cart Path Improvements for Deerpath Golf Course
The council unanimously approved a contract for $1.175 million to improve drainage and install continuous cart paths at Deerpath Golf Course as part of a plan adopted last year to improve the operation.
Before the golf course was closed for five days after the July 11-12 flood, Lake Forest Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Sally Swarthout said there was $74,000 of lost revenue because carts were not allowed on the course. She said continuous cart paths will significantly reduce that number.
Between July 12 and 20, another $60,000 was lost when the course was closed for five days because of the flood and its aftermath, according to Swarthout. After it reopened, she said cart use was limited for the next four days.
Beach Access Road, Ravine Improvement Contracts Approved
The council unanimously passed a series of contracts in the aggregate amount of $1,153,869 to repair the south beach access road and conduct engineering to determine the extent of repair work necessary in the ravine near the north access road.
The work on the south road has been in the works since last year when the road began to move and repairs became necessary. The problems on the north end are a result of flood damage from last month.