The village of Homer Glen which now owns Woodbine Golf Course plans to eventually create a 103-acre community park here. | Susan DeMar Lafferty/Sun-Times Media
Updated: September 15, 2014 5:37PM
Homer Glen village officials abruptly ended Tuesday night’s village board meeting without deciding on the future of golf at the Woodbine Golf Course after an often-heated exchange between village officials, youth sports organizations and the golf course owners.
Homer Glen bought the 103-acre Woodbine Golf Course and Banquet Hall out of foreclosure in December with plans to renovate the facility into its first village hall and transform the land into a community park with active and passive recreation. The village also wants to fix some flooding woes in the neighboring subdivision.
Officials allowed golf course owner Jim Ludwig to continue offering golf and banquets this year, and some trustees believe he should be allowed to offer golf in 2015 while the village proceeds with construction of the village hall, creates engineering plans to fix flooding and designs a master parks plan.
Mayor Jim Daley and some trustees object, saying the Ludwigs should be off the property by Dec. 31.
Instead of voting on whether to continue allowing golf in 2015, the board adjourned the meeting shortly before 11 p.m. When adjourning, several village trustees said the matter was listed only as a discussion item on the agenda and not as an issue that was up for a binding vote.
Ludwig said he would be willing to offer an 18-hole golf course in 2015. He told the board he believed the bank would have worked with them to save the golf course had the village not intervened and bought the property.
“We were given 10 days notice to show up to a closing,” he said.
Daley has been adamant against having the golf course operate next year. He said mowing the grass would be considerably cheaper if it’s not a golf course, and work could begin to fix drainage problems, which may only take a few months to solve. He said the village shouldn’t be helping bail out the golf business.
“I can’t fix their drainage problem if I can’t put backhoes on the property,” Daley said. “I have to have access to that golf course. It’s time to take control of our destiny and get it done. Or we can kick the can down the road.”
The majority of residents in the standing-room-only meeting were representatives from youth sports organizations who are eager to use the Woodbine property as a space to temporarily practice.
Coaches and organizers spoke of the current lack of practice space in the village, and of hopes to use the recently acquired public land for their teams. Several children arrived in their football jerseys.
“It’s time for the youth to get some things in Homer Glen that they have not had in the past,” said Brian Krockey, president of the Homer Stallions football, cheerleading and lacrosse programs.
Krockey said the taxpayers own the property, and the sports groups are hoping for a small piece.
Trustee Tedd Kagianas said it seems ironic that the sports groups are meeting resistance for asking for a small piece of land, but the village would be willing to turn the whole parcel over to golfers.
“The facts remain this: If we do nothing, there’s grass, there’s trees, there’s walking paths,” he said, adding that the project needs to move forward without golf.
Trustee George Yukich said he believes that having an open golf course next year would provide the village with valuable time to figure out how it will pay for the park site improvements. The village should concentrate first on building the village hall and have engineers evaluate the flooding while golf is ongoing, he said. Then the Ludwig family would pay for the upkeep of the land next year, he said.
Other trustees agreed.
Trustee Margaret Sabo said she knows people are eager to use the land, but it would be advantageous for the village to have the Ludwigs maintain it as a golf course while professionals study what happens next.
After an often contentious debate, village officials did not make a decision regarding next year and did not set a date when they would vote on next year’s golf season.
“This is one of the best things that happened in the community in years,” Trustee Mike Costa said. “And it’s tearing us apart.”