LAKE FOREST/LAKE BLUFF — While the Lake Forest and Libertyville Fire Departments prepare proposals to provide fire and paramedic service to Rockland Fire Protection District residents, those individuals disagree on the definition of long-term planning.
Some residents, including district President Dan Rogers, are willing to consider dissolution of Rockland, also known as the Knollwood Fire Department, relatively soon. Others want no action taken until the voters have a say in April 2019.
The district is 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 — an area of unincorporated Lake County called Knollwood that is part of Lake Bluff School District 65 and the Lake Bluff Park District.
Rogers sent letters to Lake Forest and Libertyville soliciting proposals from those departments to provide protection to Knollwood. The Lake Forest City Council discussed the issue August 7 and promised a bid in October, DailyNorthShore reported on August 8. Rogers said Libertyville is doing the same.
One of Rogers’ concerns is the possible demolition of the existing Knollwood Fire Station on Skokie Highway in unincorporated Lake Bluff as a result of improvements to the intersection of Highways 41 and 176.
“In five, 10, 15 or 20 years (the fire station) is going to be removed because of construction,” said Rogers. “That would require building a new station. We want these proposals in hand when the time comes.”
Lake Bluff Village Administrator Drew Irvin said in an August 22 DNS story he believes it will be a long time before the first shovel goes in the ground. Planning for the project is currently in Phase 2. Construction begins in Stage 3.
“Nothing has been done yet about land acquisition,” said Irvin in the DNS story. “Phase One took six years,” he added indicating predicting a timetable is difficult.
With that in mind, Rogers said the district’s three-person board of trustees initially sought a proposal from Libertyville but decided not to pursue it. Libertyville indicated in the initial proposal it could provide services for $380,000 a year. The current Knollwood budget is $635,000.
“If that number is really good we owe it to the taxpayers to study it,” said Rogers.
Not everyone in the Knollwood area is in such a hurry, according to Nicki Snoblin, one of the residents urging patience. Her husband, Karl Snoblin, is one of the three board members. For this interview she said she was speaking for herself.
Nicki Snoblin said the current board is appointed by Lake County Board Chairman Aaron Lawler. In November, residents approved a referendum to replace the appointed board with an elected one. The initial election is scheduled to take place in April 2019.
“We should wait until there is an elected board in place, one that represents the citizens,” said Nicki Snoblin. “The (current) board is appointed by Aaron Lawler and he doesn’t represent us either,” she added referring to the fact Lawler is elected by a different constituency that does not include Knollwood.
Rogers said he has placed conditions on any proposal before it is accepted. He wants a job guarantee from Libertyville and Lake Forest the current paid employees of the district—approximately 50—will become members of the enlarged department. Lake Forest indicated that would be part of its proposal in the DNS story.