Fox Lake president, trustee in testy exchange over park

FOX LAKE – Discussion of a proposed hotel and banquet facility at village-owned Lakefront Park has degenerated into an argument so hostile that one trustee told the village president to “Take your project and take it where the sun don’t shine.”

Village President Ed Bender has been working for years on the idea of leasing out a section of the park for such an enterprise. He has made the proposal part of his platform for re-election in April, saying it would create jobs and hopefully attract additional business to Fox Lake.

Ahead of Tuesday’s Village Board meeting, trustees received an “update” on the proposal in the form of a letter from a prospective developer. The letter was dated Jan. 30.

But Trustee Greg Murrey said he didn’t receive his letter until 13 days later – the day of the Tuesday meeting.

“It seems like certain people got track shoes on this thing, and I’d like to see it happen correctly,” Murrey said at the Village Board meeting. “I’m not going to comment. Don’t ask me to get this thing in 20 minutes and expect me to comment.”

“Then don’t comment,” Bender interjected.

“Would you let me finish?” Murrey shot back.

“Then don’t comment,” Bender repeated.

“Take your project and take it where the sun don’t shine,” Murrey told Bender. “You’re very rude, Mayor. You don’t let me finish something. What do you want? Do you want the officer to escort me out of here so you can run your program?”

Trustee Kevin Burt said he thought the project would benefit Fox Lake residents by diversifying revenue sources and taking some burden off property owners.

Others, however, have concerns.

Murrey said the amount of parking at a hotel and banquet facility is an issue for him, and Trustee Donny Schmit, who is running against Bender for village president, cited the effect of such a project on the public’s ability to use the park.

“Not everybody lives on the lake,” Schmit said. Based on preliminary drawings submitted by developers, he said it appears the public would keep about 40 percent of the shoreline that currently is public.

Bender said the portion of the park where the hotel would go is “totally unused” and emphasized several times “We’re at the very initial stage.”

The Fox Lake Village Board next meets at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 at Village Hall, 66 Thillen Drive.

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