Archive for the ‘BACT’ Category


Please join us this Sunday at Valley View Farm for a lovely afternoon of live music, raffles, lawn games and more! This is our main fundraiser of the year directly supporting our mission to preserve the incredible natural spaces across the Barrington area for current and future generations.

1-5 PM September 24th, Valley View Farm, 260 Otis Road, Barrington Hills.  Purchase general admission tickets here. Purchase raffle tickets here:.

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Front to back: Robert McGinley, Dan Lobbes, Renae Frigo and David Holman head back after checking the status of a former dam on Goose Lake in Horizon Farm preserve on Aug. 18, 2023, in Barrington Hills. Members of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust and The Conservation Foundation were out surveying Horizon Farm as part of an annual effort to track changes on the property. (Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune)

On a group tour of Horizon Farm Forest Preserve and its rolling pastures, a visitor joked that it would make a great par 3 golf course. Nature lovers shuddered at the thought, though such a use is prohibited on the site.

But the comment illustrates the tension the Forest Preserve District of Cook County faces balancing preservation and recreation. The district’s main mission is to preserve open space, and provide “nature-compatible” recreation.

In the case of Horizon Farm in northwest suburban Barrington Hills, the issue boils down to whether to save a half-mile horse racing track. The nearly 400-acre preserve used to be a horse breeding and training ground. The track was used to train thoroughbreds for racing at the now-closed Arlington International Racecourse.

When the forest preserve district bought Horizon Farm out of foreclosure for $14.5 million in 2013, officials expressed openness to keeping equestrian uses of the site. But 10 years later, the racetrack sits filled with wild plants, unused, its railing falling apart. A big chunk of the preserve remains closed, and some trails are overgrown. Horse lovers and other preserve users are wondering whether the district will save the track.

“It’s really a prize,” Barrington Hills Park District President Dennis Kelly said. “There’s been a lot of interest in the equestrian community, but we have not gotten a response.”

Not everyone is married to the idea of a horse track. Friends of the Forest Preserves, an independent nonprofit, takes the general position that recreation in the forest preserves — from boating to fishing to camping — should facilitate enjoyment of nature.

“As soon as recreation becomes about the activity, that is not in line with what should be done with the forest preserves,” Friends President Benjamin Cox said.

The group supports horse trails since anyone can use them, but has not taken a position specifically on the horse track. Exclusive sites such as a golf course or baseball diamond are only for those uses, so Friends would prefer not to build those in the preserves.

Read more here.

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What follows was recently posted to the Village website:

“I strived to make Barrington Hills’ government a model for Illinois communities and our Village a more attractive place to live,” said Trustee Bryan Croll reflecting upon his time as Village Trustee.  “I would say we proved that reducing taxes can be done; that raising taxes doesn’t have to be the norm.  Admittedly, it takes time to analyze spending habits but it is a worthwhile effort.”

Homeowners would agree.  During his two terms as Village Trustee, residents realized a Village property tax savings of almost 22%.  “We reduced Village spending and the property tax levy for eight years while maintaining healthy cash balances,” said Croll satisfyingly.

He was elected to office in 2015 and appointed by the Board as a Member of the Building & Zoning Trustee Committee, but his biggest role was his appointment as Chairman of the Finance Committee where he rolled up his sleeves and delved into examining Village operations and its finances.

He researched and collected data of which schedules of annual revenues and expenditures were created going back to 2008 to allow for easy historical comparisons and accountability.  These schedules have been incorporated into the monthly Board of Trustees meetings.

He further assisted in investigating and reporting on the investment performance of the Police Pension Fund, noting the poor returns and recommending a new manager, a change that was implemented.

Anyone who knows Trustee Croll or has listened to a Board meeting knows he is a numbers guy, instantly converting numbers into percentages no matter the subject, be it about the Village budget, personnel topics, or the Village road program–he will find the numbers! …X miles of road with a cost of X dollars per mile comes to about X percent of road over a period of X equals X.  To support an initiative, Trustee Croll took into consideration if it met with the Village’s code and if it was in the best interest of all residents—a telltale of his devotion to our community and integrity as Trustee.

All throughout his tenure of eight years, Trustee Croll continued to be in tune with Village operations. Two years into his term, he was appointed to the Personnel Committee, replacing his role on the Building & Zoning Committee. Once again, after careful analysis, he endorsed cost-saving measures streamlining services and operations for Village staff, including the Treasurer, village engineer, and village attorney.

He supported outsourcing the 911 call center to QuadCom Police Dispatch, saving the Village over $300,000 per year, or in Trustee Croll‘s lingo: $300,000 per year, over seven years, comes to over two million dollars in savings thus far, not including the adjustment for inflation. 

He promoted open space and cooperation with conservation groups, supported efforts to maintain Barrington Hills’ residential five-acre zoning, and the efforts to resolve pending legal issues.

Trustee Bryan Croll opted not to run for a third term.  His talents lay well within the layers of negotiation and financial prowess.  He had the natural ability to delineate the issues at hand and unfold a solution.  Like Trustee Colleen Konicek Hannigan, his term as Trustee began when community issues divided residents.

“I wanted to give back to the community I grew up in and build a culture of transparency and responsiveness to community concerns.  I believe I contributed to that. I enjoyed working and collaborating with my fellow trustees, Village staff, and other dedicated people who make our Village an outstanding place to live. They are all talented and hard working.  I cherish the time I spent as a Trustee and value our accomplishments.”

Thank you, Trustee Bryan Croll, for your ardor for Village finances and mathematical wizardry, copious hours of analysis and preparation, and your unwavering integrity in serving the Village of Barrington Hills!

Monday, April 24, will be Trustee Croll’s last Board Meeting as next month the newly elected Trustees will be sworn in to complete the new Board.

Feel free to send him an email of thanks to BCroll@vbhil.gov.

Learn more about his accomplishments here.

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A bison grazes in 2013 in a forest in eastern Poland. Kane County Forest Preserve Commissioners approved a plan this week to bring bison to the Burlington Prairie Forest Preserve. (Associated Press)

It’s been 200 hundred years since bison roamed the prairies of Kane County, but a new plan to reintroduce them into a local forest preserve may turn back the clock.

Kane County Forest Preserve commissioners approved a plan this week to bring a handful of bison to the Burlington Prairie Forest Preserve. The plan centers on one of the main ecological goals of restoring tallgrass prairie to the county’s preserves. Before the surrounding area developed, fire and the grazing habits of wild animals, such as bison, provided natural management of the grasslands. Preserve officials reintroduced controlled burns to the preserves many years ago.

Executive director Ben Haberthur told commissioners now is the time to reintroduce bison to restore the grazing aspect of grassland management. Up to 90% of the diet for bison is grasses.

“The grasses evolved with grazing,” Haberthur said. “So it actually promotes the soil microbiome to grow more. Bison are native to Illinois, and they are definitely native to this county. They will bring a big component back to the ecosystem, namely fertilizer.”

District officials experimented with the benefits of animal grazing in the preserves with cattle in the Aurora West Forest Preserve. That experiment resulted in the flourishing of the restored grasslands in the preserve. Officials see bison as the next step in returning the grasslands to their most natural state and care.

The Burlington Prairie Forest Preserve is in the Pleasant Valley Conservation Alley north of Huntley and in the northwest portion of the county. The plan calls for two paddocks of 30 acres each with an additional 89 acres seeded for pasture. For the safety of the animals and the public, the areas containing the bison would be fenced, which accounts for the bulk of the initial cost of the project.

Read more here.

Editorial note: As we’ve suggested before, there is ample acreage at Horizon Farm for the Forest Preserves of Cook County to consider such an endeavor.

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BARRINGTON, IL, February 28, 2023 Barrington Area Conservation Trust (BACT), a charitable organization that preserves Barrington Area’s rare and exceptional open spaces for current and future generations,  has been working with the Forest Preserve District of Cook County (FPDCC), The Conservation Foundation (TCF) and other stakeholders to negotiate a Conservation Easement Agreement for the Horizon Farm preserve.

“BACT has demonstrated its ability to professionally administer Conservation Easement agreements, as it has been involved with Horizon Farms since 2002. These agreements, known as “Conservation Easements,” run with the land, and remain in force regardless of who owns the property, including municipal entities,” said BACT Board Vice President Matthew Wilkens.

This agreement expands the natural areas and preserves the open space and equestrian character of the preserve. BACT, FPDCC and TCF have had a productive working relationship throughout this process. The Horizon Farm preserve is now open to the public, as announced by FPDCC.

About Barrington Area Conservation Trust

BACT fills an important niche in the local community as the only land trust conservation organization accepting conservation easements in the area. BACT permanently preserves open spaces through conservation easements and land donations, restores natural habitats and inspires conservation stewards. We achieve our goals through the generous support of individuals, family foundations and business organizations that embrace our vision of a sustainable, beautiful environment.  Please visit http://www.bactrust.org/ to learn more.


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Michelle Maison, Matt Wilkens PHOTOGRAPHY BY IAN MCLEOD

Supporters of the Barrington Area Conservation Trust (BACT) gathered with friends and family to enjoy an afternoon of bagpipes, kilts, live music, and highland games at BACT’s Tartans for the Trust Concert at Christina Cressey’s beautiful Cresswood Farm on September 24. Young and old alike enjoyed fantastic live music by the band Murley and local favorite Pat McKillen from elaborately appointed sponsor tents and festive Ravinia-style picnic blankets. Children enjoyed Highland-themed games and played beneath centuries old oaks, overlooking a conservation area. The live auction winner for the day Chieftain Betsy Bramsen and her guests won a tour of Barrington in a stunning Tantivy Coach courtesy of the Stephenson Family and Tudor Oaks Farm. The BACT is devoted to preserving our community’s rare and exceptional open spaces for current and future generations.

View photos from the event here.

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Chicago private-equity veteran Bryan Cressey and his wife have been identified as the buyers who paid $20 million in March for the full-floor penthouse on the 89th floor of Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

Chicago private-equity veteran Bryan Cressey and his wife, plastic surgeon Iliana Sweis, have been identified as the buyers who paid $20 million in March for the five-bedroom, 14,260-square-foot full-floor penthouse on the 89th floor of Chicago’s Trump International Hotel & Tower.

The sale of the unit was the third-highest-priced sale on record of any kind of home within Chicago’s city limits. A real estate source in the Trump Tower confirmed that Cressey and Sweis were the buyers.

Cressey, 73, is the co-founder of private equity firm Golder Thoma Cressey, which teamed up with future Gov. Bruce Rauner to become known as GTCR. Cressey then cofounded another private equity firm, Thoma Cressey, followed by Cressey & Co.

Cressey and Sweis are familiar with the Trump building, as Sweis bought a lower-floor unit in the building for $2.7 million in 2009. And Cressey, a longtime Barrington-area resident, purchased one of the hotel condos in the building in 2015 for $1.68 million.

The couple bought the $20 million penthouse through an opaque Delaware limited liability company whose name is a variation on the couple’s wedding date and location.

Chezi Rafaeli, the real estate agent who represented the couple in their purchase, declined to confirm the couple’s ownership. Lawyer Judy DeAngelis, who represented the couple in the purchase and who also receives the unit’s tax bill, asked a reporter “where you got those names” before declining to comment further.

Cressey did not respond to a request for comment, while in a phone interview, Sweis denied buying the unit.

Read more here.

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Our Village Board of Trustees will be conducting their regular monthly meeting beginning this evening at 6:30 PM. Some of the topics on their agenda include:

  • [Vote] A Resolution of Proclamation Appreciating Patrick Hennelly for 22 years of Dedicated Service to the Village of Barrington Hills Resolution 22 –
  • [Vote] Resolution of Proclamation Appreciating Dr. Gwynne H. Johnston for 28 Years of Dedicated Service to the Village of Barrington Hills Resolution 22 –
  • 5K/10K The Land We Love Run

The two gentlemen being recognized for decades of service on the Zoning Board of Appeals and the Board of Health have our utmost gratitude and respect for their commitment to the residents of our Village.

A copy of the agenda can be viewed and downloaded here.

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Kids can create a nature craft at some Earth Day events in the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

It’s time to show a little love to Mother Nature.

Earth Day is Friday, April 22, and Arbor Day follows on April 29. Here are some local events to mark the occasion — and to give back.

Earth Day in Barrington: 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, at Pederson Preserve, West County Line and Hart roads, Barrington. Join Barrington Area Conservation Trust to plant native warrior sedges, install a bald cypress tree, learn about stream ecology and more. Parking is available at Barrington High School, 616 W. Main St. Free. Register at bit.ly/BACTearthday.

Earth Day Nature Play: Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Crabtree Nature Center, 3 Stover Road, Barrington Hills. Enjoy family-friendly Earth Day activities in a three-acre Nature Play area. Free. fpdcc.com/event/earth-day-nature-play.

More here.

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BACT Earth Day 22

Barrington Area Conservation Trust

Join Barrington Area Conservation Trust in a conservation event that joins the entire community in celebrating Earth Day from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Friday, April 22.

Barrington residents are coming together to honor Mother Nature and restore the Barrington area’s natural beauty at BACT’s Pederson Preserve. Located at the corner of County line and Hart Roads, parking is available at Barrington High School.

Participants will plant native warrior sedges, install a bald cypress tree, learn about stream ecology and more. Children are welcome!

Register here.

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