News and stuff about Lake Forest and Lake Bluff

Support for Stonebridge: A Restaurant Owner’s Perspective

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by John des Rosiers, Chef/Proprietor of Inovasi, Wisma and The Other Door in Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

By John des Rosiers

As the Chef/Proprietor of three businesses in Lake Bluff I would like to take a moment to give my thoughts on the project under consideration at Stonebridge. I believe that the development is a positive addition to our community, as we rarely have the opportunity to welcome new citizens. Our residential land is limited and will not have the chance to expand, so this is a positive way for us to grow.

These homes will provide short-term jobs and economic revenue from the initial development, and the new residents will provide additional revenue from taxes and increased spending in our business community. Once approved, this project would continue the growth that Lake Bluff has seen over the past five years, and I believe that this project will contribute to an even greater and vibrant Village, restaurants, and every type of retailer we enjoy.

The Stonebridge project offers us greater tax revenues from both the standard real estate tax paid and also the increased local spending by the new residents.

I think the plan for the homes at Stonebridge is well thought-out and the best chance to develop the land. It is always vital for every community to find ways to grow, and this represents one of the rare opportunities we will have to add population.

It is my hope that you will pass the needed Village permits, etc. as I believe that this development should finally be allowed to move forward, and I look forward to welcoming these new citizens to our community.

Lake Forest Police Boosting Patrols At Railraod Tracks

A northbound Metra arrives at the west Lake Forest depot on July 1.

A northbound Metra arrives at the west Lake Forest depot on July 1.

By Adrienne Fawcett

The Lake Forest Police Department is increasing enforcement details from Sept. 14-20 at both the east- and west-side train stations to coincide with Illinois Rail Safety Week. Officers are citing pedestrians who disobey laws associated with railroad grade crossings and railroad property. This includes people crossing tracks while warning bells and lights are activated, people walking on tracks or crossing at points other than established crossings, and drivers and cyclists racing to beat lowering railroad gates.

This is a serious issue in Lake Forest, which has the 2nd highest pedestrian railroad fatality rate per capita in the Chicago metropolitan area. The city is tied with Villa Park and second only to Barrington, according to research by Northwestern University economics professor Ian Savage.

Ticketing people who violate railroad rules does help reduce violations, said Chip Pew of the Illinois Commerce Commission and the state’s Operation Lifesaver organization. “There are a number of communities that routinely and systematically enforce RR safety laws and have quantifiable proof showing that writing tickets (even a small number of them) can alter behavior and as a result have fewer violations,” he said.

There are many signs in place telling people “Do not cross when bells and lights are activated” but these are ineffective, he said, adding that “Metra is working on language that would play periodically throughout the day over their station announcement system that would let riders/commuters know that ‘it is a violation of state law to cross RR tacks when the bells and lights are activated.’”

Statewide during 2013, there were 52 trespasser incidents that resulted in 27 injuries and 25 fatalities when people trespassed on railroad property. During 2013, Illinois ranked 3rd in the nation in both vehicle collision fatalities and trespasser fatalities.

Illinois Operation Lifesaver reports that more than 50% of all collisions occur at crossings with active warning devices (flashing lights, gates, and ringing bells) — which is the case for the majority of fatalities at the west Lake Forest train station in recent years. Statewide and locally, many of the accidents can be attributed to fatigue and distractions such as earbuds, texting or reading near the tracks.

Just what are the railroad laws in Illinois?

Pew provided this summary:

5/11-1011- Basically states that if is against statute or a violation of the law to walk around or under a RR crossing gate that is down or to cross the tracks at a station platform when the lights and bells are o.n … These devices are there to tell people that a train is coming and upon activation could be at the crossing or platform in as little as 20 seconds. People would be subject to a $250 fine if found guilty.

5/11-1201- A driver would be violating the law if the drive around, through or under a lowered crossing gate. They would be subject to a $250 fine if found guilty.

5/18-7503- Deals with trespassers: People can cross tracks only at public streets and “authorized crossings” like station platforms. People walking on or along railroad tracks other than these locations would be subject to a trespassing citation with a $150 fine. 

For more information about Illinois Rail Safety Week, please visit

For more information about incidents at Lake Forest stations over the past 11 years, please read these articles from the GazeboNews:

Support For Stonebridge From A Longtime Resident

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Cheri Richardson of Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.

GazeboNews Reader Forum

By Cheri Richardson

Since 1985, I’ve proudly called Lake Bluff home. Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with, and serve, our Village in many ways—as a member of the Zoning Board and the Historic Preservation Commission, as a founding member of the Lake Bluff History Museum, and as a manager of the Lake Bluff Farmers Market. It is with that background and love for Lake Bluff that I am writing to show my support for the proposed Stonebridge development.

My love affair with Lake Bluff began in 1978, the year I attended my first Fireman’s Ball at the Harrison Conference Center with my future husband Ed, a Village lifer. Ed and I have a unique relationship with the Stonebridge property. Ed has fond memories of the property dating back as early as his childhood. In 1998, we moved across the street to the East Terrace, and in 2001, I took a job working at the Harrison Conference Center, which was located on the property.

At Harrison, I was hired to help this private conference center open to the public. At the time this was a very controversial issue, but after many long meetings with the Village Board, The Hilton Corporation was granted permission to run the property’s Manor House as a hotel, event site, and restaurant. Under Hilton, the Manor House provided Lake Bluff residents a gathering place for formal and informal events including weddings, Village parties, fundraisers, and The Fireman’s Ball.
The property thrived until Aramark took over the management in 2004. They neglected the property’s buildings, which, as a result, went into disrepair. Soon thereafter the property was sold and we all felt the loss. A piece of Lake Bluff’s history was gone.

Sadly, our Village has not been able to enjoy the Stonebridge property in its current state as a failed development. Since The Roanoke Group bought the property a few years ago, a lot has changed for the better. The woods are being restored, and I appreciate the flowers and shrubs that have been planted along Green Bay Road, which I drive past numerous times a day. Since the buckthorn has been removed, we can finally see the Manor House. It serves as a reminder that an important piece of Lake Bluff history still exists and we should try to save it.

I have seen the current plan for the Stonebridge development. It is a thoughtful approach that will include the restoration of both the Jens Jensen gardens, and the historic Manor House, which will be a great asset to our Village. I believe we are fortunate to have a developer like The Roanoke Group take the time and care over the past three years to not rush into a plan, as other developers have. I have heard the comments from the PCZBA and I think those recommendations have improved the proposed plan. It is great to have a developer that listens to the commissioner’s comments and actually makes the changes that have been requested. As a former commissioner I can attest that this is not always the case.

At one time, this was a magnificent piece of property: an estate designed by renowned architect Howard Van Doren Shaw, surrounded by a stunning Jens Jensen landscape. It will be wonderful to see the Jensen landscape restored, and hopefully the Manor House as well.

Every major change throughout the history of our little town has been controversial, but in the end, positive. That’s how it is when so many people care. The Stonebridge property has been empty and neglected much too long. We now have what I truly believe is a great plan. The future residents of this property will shop in the local stores, eat at the restaurants in town, and hopefully help ease our tax bills.

Please join me in talking to your friends and neighbors on the PCZBA and Village Boards to share your support for the approval of the Stonebridge development plan.
Cheri Richardson

Whether They ‘Say Yes’ or ‘No Thanks,’ Scots Will Forever Be Part of Lake Forest …

Yes, that's an ostrich that Lake Forest/Scotsman David McLennan is riding.

Lake Forester/Scotsman Donald Roderick McLennan, founder of Marsh & McLennan, rides an ostrich.

By Sam Eichner, GazeboNews reporter

Many Lake Foresters are aware of the simple yes or no question Scottish voters will face on September 18, the resultant outcome of which will either see Scotland resolutely declare independence from the U.K. or remain under its wing.

Fewer, however, are aware of the integral role Scots played in the establishment of Lake Forest around the turn of the 20th century.

“They weren’t the majority of the residents,” said Scottish-born Lake Bluff resident David Forlow, an active member of the Illinois’ St. Andrew Society, “but they were the backbone.”

Lake Forest, Forlow said, was founded by Presbyterians who, seeking refuge from the hotbed of vice and sin that was 19th century Chicago, found a quieter home in the country up north.  These settlers bought much of the land on the east side of Lake Forest with the intention of building a planned community, which would include a school for boys as well as a college (now known as Lake Forest College).

The Presbyterian Church is the national church of Scotland, and many members of this specific church were either native born or first-generation Scots.

Vestiges of Lake Forest’s Scottish roots are visible today.  Take a stroll around Lake Forest College, and you’ll notice that a number of the campus buildings — like Stuart Commons, Patterson Lodge, and Reid Hall — are named after prominent area Scots. Onwentsia and Deerpath? Both courses were designed by Scots. And then there’s Lake Forest Open Lands’ annual Bagpipes and Bonfire event, whose mass pipe band and kilted skydivers are about as Scottish as it gets; though the celebration only officially dates back to 1988, Forlow said it originated decades earlier, when old Scots up and down Green Bay Road would converge upon Shaw Prairie to pass around some booze and light a bonfire. (The 27th Annual Bagpipes & Bonfire is on September 28 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Middlefork Farm Nature Preserve in Lake Forest.)

As for the “Say Yes”/”No Thanks” issue, Forlow said he has cousins in Scotland who fall on both sides; while he doesn’t feel right telling his countrymen how to vote, he believes the referendum will ultimately fail in a close vote.

At least one Chicago Scot, however, is openly hoping for a different outcome; Jack Crombie, who owns the Scottish pub Duke Of Perth, wrote in an e-mail to GazeboNews: “A free people with a proud history, their own legal and education systems, a clearly different attitude towards the place of a man in society, and with their own national aspirations–I for one hope that they seize this incredible and rare opportunity.”

As of Sunday evening, The Guardian suggested that the referendum was too close to call.  Yet, though the state of Scotland is uncertain, Lake Forest can rest easy: a piece of the country will remain here — in the schools, events, and institutions — no matter what the result.

Below are just a handful of the over 2,000 photos Forlow and others collected for a documentary, “Scots In Lake Forest,” which will be presented at the Scottish American History Museum in Chicago next month.

“If someone didn’t save or scan the information,  who knows what would’ve happened with it,” Forlow said of the project. “We’re proud of our heritage.”




Neil Campbell, who served as Lake Forest City Manager, is pictured with Ian Campbell, the Duke of Argyll, during a visit to Scotland.



Neil Campbell, his wife, daughter and 6-week old granddaughter.



A newspaper clipping showing Lake Forest’s Alex Pirie awarding the U.S. the Ryder Cup.  Pirie was the first golf pro at Old Elm Golf Course. (As far as Forlow knows, he bears no relation to the department store, Carson Pirie Scott.)



John J. Murdock, who lived in Lake Bluff and ran Keith Vaudeville Theaters, which later merged with Joseph Kennedy’s movie studio to become RKO Pictures.





William Marshall, at Onwentsia Golf Club, circa 1897.  Marshall was Onwentsia’s first golf pro, and finished just a few storkes behind fellow Scot Alex Smith in the U.S. Open. (He bears no relation to the department store, Marshall Fields.)



The Marshall’s family photo.



William Marshall, circa 1910, who built the first ever house on Attridge Road in Lake Forest.



The 19th Annual Meeting for the Professional Golfers’ Association of America, of which Alex Pirie was elected president.




Forlow said Scottish-born George Findlay, shown above with a bull, and his uncle James Anderson imported the first ever registered herd of Angus cattle to the U.S. from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. When the cattle got to Lake Forest, they were first kept where the CVS is today on Western Avenue.

Findlay then ran the XIT ranch in Texas, which covered three million acres, and later became president of the first bank in Lake Forest. Anderson founded the second bank in town, and the two banks eventually merged.

The big red brick building at the corner of Deer Path and Western avenues, where Walgreens is housed, is the Anderson Building named for James. His grandson was Stanley Anderson, a name well known in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. He designed Lake Forest High School, Lake Forest Hospital, much of downtown Lake Forest, some of downtown Lake Bluff and dozens of big homes in both towns.


All photos shared by David Forlow of Lake Bluff.


Yes that’s an ostrich, and it’s one of Forlow’s favorite photos of the 2,000 that he and others collected for the documentary. The ostrich’s passenger is Donald Roderick McLennan, founder of Marsh & McLennan — today, a multibillion dollar company. Donald built Stornoway House on Lake Road (now Wrigley’s house). The McLennan family was from Stornoway, Scotland, hence the home’s name. His grandson Rev. Scotty McLennan is the basis for the Rev. Scotty character in the Doonesbury comic strip, who wears a “bunnet”–a Scottish tartan.


All photos shared by David Forlow of Lake Bluff.


Stonebridge Does Not Comply With Lake Bluff’s Comprehensive Plan

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Rick Lesser of Lake Bluff. Reader Forum articles represent the writers’ opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to comment on this article, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy.


GazeboNews Reader Forum

By Rick Lesser of Lake Bluff

The Lake Bluff Comprehensive Plan calls for transitional housing on the Stonebridge site and provides that for this site any development should be: “a compatible transition between the R-2 area to the north and the E-2 area to the south.”

Villages, like, Lake Bluff, are encouraged by state law to adopt a comprehensive plan both to promote harmonious development and to advise residents long in advance on the Village’s land use plans. Comprehensive plans, if followed, create a legal presumption: zoning changes which comply with the comprehensive plan are legally presumed valid. The housing to the south of the site has seven residences on about 70 acres. That’s 0.1 units/acre.

North of the Stonebridge site is the West Terrace, has 103 acres subdivided into 202 built lots; that’s 1.96 houses per acre. The average between the area to the South and the area to the North, if transitional, should be roughly 1.03 houses per acre. But the current Stonebridge developer (SB2011 LLC) is asking for 98 units on 45 acres, 2.18 houses per acre. That’s more than twice a “compatible transition.”

When you hear Stonebridge call its proposal a “pocket neighborhood”, what that means is that the development would be very different from the surrounding areas. That’s why it’s a “pocket”; because it’s starkly different.

Density matters for many reasons. Obviously, there would be much more traffic. Ninety-eight new houses means at least 200 new cars on Green Bay Road. SB2011 LLC hired the same traffic engineering consultant (KLOA) as the first developer had used. KLOA went to the then-operating Harrison Conference Center, found out when the facility was hosting an event, and then counted the cars going to the event. The consultant then compared that traffic to a nursing facility, and reported that the proposed new development would dramatically lower traffic. KLOA has no credibility.

High-density housing also impacts the housing values of the surrounding area. Despite SB2011’s pie-in-the-sky predicted sales prices, two bedroom cluster homes on 45 ft. lots are not really going to sell for more than the 3 to 5 bedroom houses on 75 ft. lots in the West Terrace.

The cluster homes will undercut prices. There is nothing transitional or compatible about this proposal. Neither the PC/ZBA nor the Village Board has any obligation to veer from the Comprehensive Plan for SB2011 LLC.

The Village is always on safe legal ground when it follows the comprehensive plan. This will require saying “no’. Sometimes, that’s the job of the PC/ZBA.

Hopefully, residents will come out to the Village Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 17 at 7:00 pm, to speak to the PC/ZBA. I know that we are all (except SB2011 and its paid spokespersons) tired of this issue. We are not getting paid to be there. But if you love this community and want to see our community remain a harmonious neighborhood, I hope you will join me in standing up for the Lake Bluff Comprehensive Plan.

Click on the following image to read more pages of the Lake Bluff Comprehensive Plan


Next Stonebridge Public Hearing is Sept. 17

If you want to speak up about Stonebridge in Lake Bluff, plan to attend the Lake Bluff Plan Commission and Zoning Board of Appeals meeting at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 17 in Village Hall. This is a continuation of a public hearing that took place on Aug. 20 when The Roanoke Group LLC gave a presentation seeking approval of a preliminary development plan for the 47-acre Stonebridge property at 136 Green Bay Road.

That meeting went on for a lengthy clip before being tabled until the PCZBA’s monthly meeting this month. The Lake Bluff website states that “it is anticipated that a portion of the meeting will be dedicated to comments and testimony from the public.”

There are some links of interest about Stonebridge on the Village of Lake Bluff website:

  • a video of the Aug. 20 PCZBA meeting
  • The agenda for the Sept. 17 PCZBA meeting as well as the minutes from the Aug. 20 meeting
  • A summary of the Aug. 20 meeting and many additional links.
  • A GazeboNews Reader Forum by Rick Lesser of Lake Bluff regarding the Stonebridge Easement



There’s A Reason For All Those Bees & Wasps

A Yellow Jacket takes a bite out of Cece Fawcett's prosciutto panino this week at Caputo's in Lake Forest

A Yellow Jacket chomps on Cece Fawcett’s prosciutto panino at Caputo’s in Lake Forest

By Sam Eichner, GazeboNews reporter

They’re all over the place.

On the sidelines of neighborhood soccer games. Buzzing around as you enjoy a quick bite for lunch on an otherwise serene outdoor patio. Circling ever closer as you walk from house to car …

“Lisa killed 20 yesterday,” Ravinia Coffee Station owner Josh Weissbard said recently, referring to his co-worker’s trials and tribulations with this summer’s particularly prevalent army of bees and wasps. “They’re everywhere, and everyone’s having the same problem.”

Like Mark Wescott, owner of Market House on the Square, a restaurant known in summer months for its pleasant al fresco seating in downtown Lake Forest.

“The bees have been a perennial problem,” he wrote in an e-mail. “Though I actually think the previous summers haven’t been as bad, and that’s why this year seems worse.”

Another reason this year might be worse than years previous: the abundance of food in the open spaces along the North Shore.

“If there is an increase [of bees],” President of Lake Bluff Open Lands Larry McCotter wrote in an e-mail, “it might be due to the fact that many species of plants are having a bumper year due to the regular rain that just won’t quit.” McCotter, himself a recent victim of a Yellow Jacket sting, went said he has never seen so much sweet white clover, garlic mustard, and Queen Anne’s Lace growing in the area.

Heller Nature Center Naturalist Jessica Reyes has noticed significantly more bees coming out within the last couple of weeks than they have all summer and offered a similar explanation as McCotter:

“Last year, I didn’t see a lot of Golden Rod, and this year, I’m seeing tons of it,” Reyes said.  Golden Rod is one of the last flowers in the area to bloom before winter; naturally, it’s a big hit amongst bees this time of year, as they go about building up a reserve of pollen in preparation for the North Shore’s colder months.

None of this seems to surprise Dr. Steve Edelstein, an emergency physician at Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital. Though he has certainly seen an “inordinate number of bee and insect stings” as of late, he always seems to notice more bees and wasps around in late summer and early fall.

Wasps, in particular, are notoriously nasty right now. As they near the end of their life cycle and the nest’s queens stop laying eggs, wasps no longer feel it necessary to feed their young their standard diet of insects and other arthropods. Instead, they tend to refocus their attention on dessert—i.e. the sweets and other carbohydrates you find in your own food—which goes a long way in explaining why you are more likely to find them hovering around your end-of-summer picnics and barbecues.

Unfortunately, there aren’t many natural solutions for dealing with bees or wasps, other than to be extra vigilant when it comes to leftover crumbs and spills. People should be wary, too, of using insecticides on their plants, as bees play an extremely important role in our ecosystem, and are more likely than wasps to bring the poison back to their hive.

If you do happen to get stung, Dr. Edelstein advises people not to panic.  Almost all stings can be treated with ice, and either an antihistamine or steroid cream, like hydrocortisone. However, any systemic symptoms outside of the skin–trouble breathing or a clogging of the airway–should be treated at the emergency room.

Thursday Was 9/11…

Lake Forest’s Peg Ciccarelli and her family are in Manhattan for the 9/11 Commemoration Ceremony to honor her brother, Chris Allingham, a married dad of two who worked for Canter Fitzgerald and who was on the 104th floor of the North Tower when a hijacked commercial jet flown by terrorists hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.

Peg has been posting photos of the events surrounding the 2014 ceremony on her Facebook page, and she granted permission for GazeboNews to share these here.



Mad Hatters Are Glad Givers To Lake Forest Symphony

Submitted by the Lake Forest Symphony Guild

Judy Ringler opened the doors of her stunning Lake Forest home for members and guests of the Lake Forest Symphony Guild’s 2014-2015 Opening Tea, an event that starts off the season for the organization. More than 80 ladies enjoyed tea sandwiches and sweets with their tea as well as meeting the new Music Director, Vladimir Kulenovic. He spoke about the weekend concert, which included Haydn and Beethoven, and also gave a rundown of upcoming concerts during the 2014-2015 Symphony Season.

The guest artist was George Radosavljevic, concert pianist with the Lake Forest Symphony, with an addition of his son Leo who just graduated from Julliard and sang an aria from Faust Opera.

Because of the success of the Guild’s fund raiser last spring, the Mad Hatter, a check in the amount of $12,000 was presented to the Lake Forest Symphony’s Jay Owen, President of the Lake Forest Symphony Board.

Hostess Judy Ringler, Mathilda Williams, Betty Benton

Hostess Judy Ringler, Mathilda Williams, Betty Benton

Mathilda Williams, Mr. Jay Owen, President of the Lake Forest Symphony Board, Marsha Temple, Betty Benton, Suzanne Laundry, Helen Roman

Mathilda Williams, Jay Owen–President of the Lake Forest Symphony Board, Marsha Temple, Betty Benton, Suzanne Laundry, Helen Roman

Gwen Kukla and Sara Cooper

Gwen Kukla and Sara Cooper

Brunhild Baass, Melissa Rigoni, Sandy Bennett, Finny Stodola

Brunhild Baass, Melissa Rigoni, Sandy Bennett, Finny Stodola

Catherine Murphy-Eardley, Mathilda Williams, Nancy Smith, Bonita Friedland

Catherine Murphy-Eardley, Mathilda Williams, Nancy Smith, Bonita Friedland

Marilyn Holmes and Mr. Jay Owen, President of the Lake Forest Symphony Board

Marilyn Holmes and Jay Owen, President of the Lake Forest Symphony Board

George Radosavljesovic, concert pianist with the Lake Forest Symphony

George Radosavljesovic, concert pianist with the Lake Forest Symphony



Lake Forest’s Monster Book Sale Begins This Week

More than 50 volunteers started working at 8 a.m. on Monday to unpack 125,000 books covering some 100 categories for the Friends of Lake Forest Library Annual Book Sale, which takes place this week at the Lake Forest Recreation Center gym at 400 Hastings Road. The sale also includes thousands of DVDs, music CDs and audio books.


Thursday Sept. 11, 9am to 5pm (members and volunteers only, 20% mark-up)
Friday Sept. 12, 9am to 8pm
Saturday Sept. 13, 9am to 5pm
Sunday Sept. 14, 9am to 5pm (1/2 off day!)

This is an event that’s a year in the making. The Friends accept donations year-round at the back of Lake Forest Library. The books are numbered (sorted, priced at the library) and then loaded into three trucks in a proper order so that they can efficiently bring the boxes to the appropriate tables.

Getting ready for the monster book sale of the season

The photo above shows what the Rec Center looked like before volunteers got started displaying books on Monday morning; the photo below shows the fruits of their labor; photos by Carl Noble


To see  a preview of unique books at this year’s sale, visit this link at the Lake Forest Library web site.

For a Q&A with Friends of Lake Forest Libary’s Carol Champ, please read this story by GazeboNews Book Beat columnist Mike Conklin.

Carol Champ,  Sande Noble,  Karen Eckert, and Marilyn Turchi, promote the Friends of the Lake Forest Library Book Sale at last month's Lake Forest Day parade.

Carol Champ, Sande Noble, Karen Eckert, and Marilyn Turchi, promote the Friends of the Lake Forest Library Book Sale at last month’s Lake Forest Day parade.