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In January 1989, the Secretary of Defense approved a recommendation from the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to close Fort Sheridan. In October 1997, the Lake County Forest Preserve District approved the Memorandum of Agreement with the Federal Government, resulting in the transfer of approximately 250 acres of Fort Sheridan to the District.

As a condition of deeding the Fort Sheridan property to the District, the Government required the District to maintain the Fort Sheridan National Cemetery in perpetuity. The District has continued to provide care and maintenance of the Cemetery at a cost of approximately $35,000 per year.

The VA has determined that within the next 15 years, the remaining burial capacity at the Cemetery will be depleted, so in 2019, it contacted the District to discuss the potential transfer of property and the release of the requirement to maintain the Cemetery in perpetuity, which would significantly reduce District operational costs now and in the future.

This transfer will allow the VA to expand the Fort Sheridan National Cemetery and install columbaria, which are used for the above-ground interment of cremated remains.

US Department of Veteran's Affairs National Cemetery Administration

For additional information on the National Cemetery Administration's Columbarium and In-Ground Cremain Burials, visit its website here.


Sample Columbarium Layout. After a final contract between the VA and the District is approved, the NCA will begin planning to determine what the final site configuration may look like.


Completed Tasks

  • December 2019: Contacted by Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA) with a request for property.
  • Beginning in January 2020: Ongoing discussions with VA regarding the terms and property configuration for a potential conveyance.
  • February 2022: A précis of the VA’s proposal and a map showing the approximate boundaries of the property was presented to the Planning Committee “For Information Only,” alerting the Committee that an Open House would be held in April.
  • April 2022: An Open House held at the Midwest Young Artists Conservatory in Highwood–provided an opportunity for the public to view information and ask questions of staff, representatives from the VA and commissioners providing information regarding the VA’s request for property for the proposed Columbaria.
  • June 2022: District granted the VA a 180-day Property Access Agreement to allow it and its contractors to perform its due diligence, including obtaining appraisals of value, perform surveys, conduct engineering tests and studies, take soil borings and carry out all other exploratory investigations of the property to confirm the property is appropriate and feasible for the expansion of the Cemetery.
  • August 2022: Planning Committee provided staff with a Policy Direction to begin to negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding to begin formalizing the terms of a conveyance.
  • October 2022: Legislative Committee approved the District’s 2023 Legislative Program, which now includes a priority to seek legislation to provide the District with authority to transfer 4.7 acres at Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve to the United States Department of Veteran’s Affairs for the purpose of expanding the Fort Sheridan National Cemetery.
  • December 2022: Determined grantor approval is unnecessary, and that there are no restrictions on District property or impediments to the District conveying the 4.7 acres to the VA as a result of the 2006 Great Lakes Commission for funding under the Great Lakes Basin Program for Soil Erosion and Sediment Control grant.
  • December 2022: Determined grantor approval is unnecessary, and that there are no restrictions on District property or obstacles to the District conveying the 4.7 acres to the VA as a result of the 2007 Department of the Army, Estuary Habitat Restoration Council’s Estuary Habitat Restoration Program grant.
  • January 2023: Confirmed with the grantor that there are no restrictions on District property or barriers to the District conveying the 4.7 acres to the VA as a result of the 2014 USDA, Forest Service Northeastern Area, State and Private Forestry, Reconnecting Urban Forests Oak Woodland Restoration Near Lake Michigan grant.
  • June 2023: Bill enacted into law authorizing the District to convey 4.7 acres of Fort Sheridan Forest Preserve to the Federal Government.

Remaining Tasks

  • Obtain the Department of the Army’s release of the deed restriction requiring that the property be used as a golf course or recreational open space in perpetuity and not devoted to another use (release to be obtained by the VA).
  • Obtaining grantor approval, or determining grantor approval is unnecessary, for the 2015 Great Lakes Fishery and Ecosystem Restoration Project grant.
  • Committee and Board Approval of a Memorandum of Agreement or Purchase and Sale Agreement with the VA to detail the final terms of the transfer of approximately 4.7 acres of property.


Sample Committal Shelter. The Committal Shelter provides a designated location within the cemetery to hold an interment service. Situated to allow for a quiet, dignified, and solemn interment service. Designed as an open, covered pavilion with limited seating and set in terrain with trees and vegetation.