CHICAGO (CBS) — There’s a decision that’s creating a lot of bad feelings on the North Shore.
The decision: to build a road right through the 10th hole of a popular golf course. Only a few powerful people gain here. The Water Reclamation District owns the land on which Canal Shores sits.
And they’re the ones that gave the green light to build the access road.
But opponents said it’s the behind-the scenes influence of Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton that can’t be disguised.
Wilmette landowner Joseph Keefe and his family want to build a road thru Canal Shores Golf Course, to access and develop a land-locked, one acre parcel that sits just to the north.
“In Illinois, if you own private property, and you pay taxes on it, you’re owed access to the property by the municipality,” said Keefe.
And Keefe has a powerful investor in the project, who just happens to be his lawyer as well: Illinois State Senate President John Cullerton.
“A private property developer wants the road to increase the development value of his property,” said Elizabeth Kinney of the League of Women Voters.
The value, that is, of John Cullerton’s property, and Cullerton has friends.
Cook County Commisisioner Larry Suffredin is one of them. The two worked together as young public defenders.
And Cullerton loaned Sufferdin $50,000 for his failed 2008 campaign for Illinois State’s Attorney. Suffredin represents the area, but took no position on Cullerton’s easement.
Until after it narrowly passed.
Sufferin said he’s disappointed it got approved, although he admitted he didn’t try to stop it.
Under the Canal Shores lease, the Cook County Highway Department can request an easement on the Water Reclamation District’s land. But no one from the highway department wanted to discuss their involvement Friday in the highly unpopular project.
“I believe that this was improperly done and this was used to get around our lease,” said Wilmette Park District Commissioner Bryan Abbott.
CBS 2 tried to contact Senator Cullerton and the Cook County Highway Department but neither responded.