Lakewood’s new RedTail Golf Clubhouse wins approval; demolition work to begin Monday

Trustee wants the clubhouse to finance itself without extra cost to taxpayers

RedTail Golf Club, 7900 Redtail Drive in the Village of Lakewood, on Wednesday, April 27, 2022. The golf club will be building a new clubhouse later this year

After years of consideration, Lakewood village trustees approved the construction of a new clubhouse, maintenance barn and storage shed for the village-owned RedTail Golf Course.

Demolition of the current clubhouse is expected to start Monday, Sept. 18, Village Manager Jean Heckman said.

It’s our job and our duty to make sure, in my opinion, that we mitigate as much liability coming back to the taxpayers as possible.”

—  Lakewood Village Trustee Mike Fischer

All motions related to the construction and financing of the three buildings passed without opposition Tuesday. One trustee was absent from the meeting.

Lakewood Village President David Stavropoulos called it a “historic day” for the community. Trustees have had at least 29 meetings over the past 17 months about the topic, he said.

“For the record, if required, I would have voted for all three, too,” Stavropoulos said.

A groundbreaking ceremony is tentatively planned for Tuesday, Sept. 26. Further details are still tentative, Stavropoulos said.

Trustees voted last month to spend $45,000 to rent a trailer that will be used as a temporary clubhouse during construction of the new clubhouse.

RedTail Golf Club, located at 7900 Redtail Drive, has been planning major reconstruction for the site for more than a year. The project is estimated to cost almost $4 million and includes a 9,000-square-foot clubhouse and a 4,500-square-foot golf cart pavilion.

Lakewood trustees have expressed concerns in previous meetings about funding the construction. The board was supposed to vote on approving the bids and constructions of RedTail on Aug. 29, but trustees moved to meet in private about the matter and to delay the vote.

Trustee Mike Fischer said that RedTail must finance itself. He doesn’t want a RedTail tax put on Lakewood residents to cover the costs, which happened for the previous golf course construction project.

“I don’t think that the village should be floating any of it,” Fischer said. “It’s our job and our duty to make sure, in my opinion, that we mitigate as much liability coming back to the taxpayers as possible.”

Fischer agreed that a whole reconstruction is necessary because of “decades of deferred maintenance that are now pretty much beyond repair.”

The barn does not have a historic landmark designation, but Trustee Tricia Babischkin said it is historic.

There is no plan to demolish the barn as of now, Stavropoulos said.

However, Trustee Lonnie Jeschke said that a lot of work needs to be done on the barn since it’s loaded with “vermin” such as bats, mice and pigeons.

Babischkin said maintenance on RedTail property has been lacking, such as with upkeep on weeds, landscaping and tidiness of equipment, which can be an eyesore for nearby residents.

“I would like a standard to be set for the upkeep of the property,” she said. “We wouldn’t tolerate that from our neighbors.”

Trustees also voted to accept a loan proposal from Wintrust Bank of up to $3 million with a 5.35% interest rate for the first eight years. The village plans to pay back the loan over 20 years.

The village had an option to finance with Home State Bank, Wintrust or Tax-Exempt Leasing Corp.

Stravropoulos suggested that half of the annual RedTail profit should go toward the principal on the loan. Exactly how the village will handle the financing still needs to be planned, he said.

A Lakewood resident expressed concerns about how future board members will handle the RedTail finances throughout the duration of the loan. Stravropoulos said that he can’t speak on what future boards will do.

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