Further Information and Expanded Petition Position

Sign Petition

As of the summer of 2011, the Park District has turned its attention, for the third time in recent years, to the development of Rosewood Beach and a task force has been appointed to help select the architectural firm for the project. Once the architectural firm is selected and the design is completed, construction will quickly commence. The Park District has adequate funds for development for this single beach and will not need to pass a referendum. (A first proposal to develop Rosewood Beach, along with other HP beaches, failed to pass a public referendum in November of 2008.)

One factor that Park District officials have cited as dictating a quick turn around time for this development is the arrival of the Army Corp of Engineers to help shore up the deteriorating beach and restore habitats. This is a wonderful development, welcomed by all, and we believe precipitated by the outcry for environmental considerations that RNA put forth in 2010. Though it would seem that the Army Corp of Engineers might lend insights for a new development, the Park District has made a case for having their building completed before the Corp comes in and this will serve to hasten the process of the proposed development. The time for the public to become aware and vocal regarding the proposed development is now.

Though the over-sized scale of the proposed permanent building along with the resulting compromises to the beach and bluff were significant factors in the failure of the 2010 proposal to be approved by the City of Highland Park’s Design Review Committee, the Park District has remained steadfast in its vision. Park District officials have likened their desired development to a version of Heller Nature Center on the Lake. The design task force has been instructed that the Park District sees Rosewood Beach as the opportunity to create a “signature facility”. And so, as the third round of design gets under way, the Park District is forfeiting nothing and directing architects to design a structure with the very same program considerations that drove the size to a problematic 3500 sq. ft. in the second round.

The Park District states that a 1000 sq. ft. conference room and “interpretative center” is necessary. The omission of this feature would cause the loss of grant money in the amount of $200,000. It is commendable of the Park District to pursue grant money. Even so, it needs to be remembered that these funds are conditioned on the building meeting many criteria, the demands of which are driving the overall development to a considerably larger scale. In the end, tax money would pay for the remaining $2,200,000 required for their expanded plan.

It is also commendable that the Park District would seek to provide teaching facilities for children vis-à-vis an interpretative center. However, learning, especially about a natural environment, need not happen in a permanent, enclosed space. Children could learn right on the beach, utilizing temporary awnings, or a local school for adverse weather (as is done with other outdoor park district camps). It would be a perverse irony for a learning center aimed toward understanding, appreciating and preserving the environment to be the very source of the natural environment’s degradation. (What educational display teaching about erosion or the lakefront bluffs could possibly be appropriate in a building carved into the side of a bluff? What educational display would be appropriate in a building erected on a narrow sandy beach that sans protection and costly sand replenishment keeps being washed away?)

Beyond the conference room/ interpretive center, the Park District would like a guard station/ guest services/first aid room, restrooms, indoor showers, concessions and related storage area, storage for life guards, interior refuse and janitor and mechanical rooms within the permanent enclosed structure. While some of these represent more reasonable beach functions than the conference room/ interpretative center, it is very possible for some of these functions to be accommodated outside the permanent enclosed space. It is possible that some functions, such as concessions, could be accommodated during the swim season only, with portable elements placed on a stone terrace extending beyond the permanent structure. Outdoor changing booths could be considered as well as outdoor showers to keep the footprint of the building smaller. Other spaces, such as the mechanical room for heating and air conditioning equipment could also be eliminated altogether.

As we consider how Rosewood Beach is to be best enjoyed it is necessary to remember that it is a small beach, 915 feet long with depths ranging from 100 to 130 feet to the asphalt walk way. The beach has, in fact, has become notably smaller in the last 40 to 50 years as eroding beaches are an ongoing problem in Highland Park and other lakefront communities. Although there may be many contributing factors, a recent New York Times article points to building development as the prime culprit in beach erosion. We need to seriously consider what we feel must build on this site.

The proposed development comes at far too great a cost. We are opposed to the cutting away of the bluff and the future erosion and maintenance problems that would be an on going concern with the Park Districts approach. We object to the loss of lake views. We object to the interruption to foot traffic and a path currently used for strolling along the beach. We object to a significant loss of sandy beach with the added threat of further erosion. We object to the commercialization of this space, one of the few relatively unspoiled natural sanctuaries in our city where people can escape the influences of business and cultural in their everyday lives. We feel that Rosewood Beach can not reasonably accommodate the increased functions and larger development proposed by the Park District.

If you share our views, please sign our petition Sign Petition

To see drawings of the 2010 design proposed or to view photos of existing beach conditions and read more on the reasons a large building is detrimental to Rosewood beach, Read the post Rosewood Beach Needs Improvement.

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Rosewood Beach Needs Improvement

Sadly, Highland Park public lakefront stands out of all Chicago’s North Shore public beaches by its level of neglect. The biggest eye sore on Rosewood Beach are the unsightly industrial looking steel groins extending into the lake. The groins were placed in the 1970s to help prevent beach erosion. Yet, today there are more attractive ways that can avoid this kind of visual pollution. (Please share your comments at the end of this post.)

This is how Rosewood Beach looks today:

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The Park District of Highland Park is proposing to build a large building with a 1000 square foot program room for Park District designated uses and rentals in in the middle off the small Rosewood Beach. This 100′ long building would partly block lake views and cut into the bluff. Please click the thumbnail images below to see the site and building plans.

Please click the thumbnail images below to see the site and building plans.

Rosewood Beach Site Plan

Click image to enlarge

Rosewood Beach Site Plan

Rosewood Beach Building Plan

Click image to enlarge

Rosewood Beach Building Plan
After reviewing the plans and seeing these staked out on the beach, the Ravinia Neighbors Association has strongly stepped up against the Park District building plan. Please read the RNA Board letter (below) and comments from the community here.

Ravinia Neighbors Association Letter re: Rosewood Beach

To:  Mayor Belsky, Members of the City of Highland Park City Council, Design Review Commission, Plan Commission,  the Park District of Highland Park BoardFrom: The Ravinia Neighbors Association Board

Subject: Proposed Park District Building Plan for Rosewood Beach

Date: August 16, 2010

We commend the Park District for turning its focus to the lakefront.  We are glad that Rosewood Beach is the first of the four Highland Park public beaches that the Park District has chosen to address. We appreciate the Park District efforts in securing funding, and its hard work.  We would especially like to thank Rebecca Grill of  the Park District for her wonderful job replanting the bluff with indigenous plants.

We agree that the lakefront is our public treasure and a unique feature worthy of utmost respect and care.  Many residents have chosen Highland Park as a place to live because it is a lakefront community. Only a fraction of the lakefront in Highland Park is in public use.

We are very concerned, however, about the Park District of Highland Park plans to construct a large building in the middle of Rosewood Beach. After studying the proposed plans and seeing the site staked out we get a strong sense that our members representing the most involved residents in the neighborhood find the proposed building inappropriate for Rosewood Beach.  Also, based on the comments made during the Park District public presentations  regarding beach development in 2007, it is our strong sense that the current plan goes against repeated statements calling for a natural-looking beach and environmental awareness regarding beach development.

While the community and the Park District both seem to agree that the lakefront needs improvement, in the light of the current Park District building plans, we feel that the community interprets what beach improvement means very differently from the Park District.  The community does not see erecting a large building on a small and narrow beach as improvement; quite on the contrary.

Here are some reasons why:

  1. The plan is at odds with our sentiment to enhance and retain the Jens Jensenesque natural look and feel of Rosewood Beach. We oppose  the philosophy of installing large permanent structures on Rosewood Beach. Rosewood Beach aesthetically demands that less is more.
  2. The proposed building would obstruct lake views  and impact the flow of  foot traffic on the beach.
  3. The proposed building would cut into the natural bluff and eliminate a significant section of the lower part of the bluff. Let the natural lines of the bluff by Lake Michigan  be the dominant feature of Rosewood Beach.
  4. We feel strongly that the public lakefront belongs to all.  No part of a public beach should be compromised for the sake of some special groups at the expense of the public at large and future generations. Installations like the conference room in the proposed building for specialized groups at Park District’s discretion are not appropriate on Rosewood Beach.
  5. Rosewood Beach is the only swimming beach in Highland Park. The main part of the Rosewood Beach where people swim and sunbathe extends  only approx 580’ south of the parking lot.  Even at its deepest, the sandy beach at Rosewood is very shallow—maximum 100’ to 130’ from the edge of the asphalt walkway.  The 101’ wide  building for a footprint of 3500 square feet proposed by the Park District would take away space from the beach that people can use.
  6. Designing a building that cuts into the base of the natural bluff  would inevitably compromise the integrity of the bluff in the long run. This would be a costly proposition for our children and grandchildren to address.
  7. In the light of limited resources, we would also like to draw attention to the unnecessarily high building cost required for fighting the adverse natural conditions of the proposed building site—partly under a high natural bluff and very close to the water line—and future  maintenance costs. The funds would be better spent on maintaining and enhancing the natural beach and the bluff.
  8. The only permanent structure that we see necessary for the Rosewood Beach would be for public restrooms. One location that we suggest studying for this purpose would be adjacent to the emergency generator at the end of the drive leading to the beach parking lot. Food concession vendors have all been unsuccessful at Rosewood Beach in the past. However, a small temporary seasonal concession stand not directly on the beach, but around the parking lot area, could be considered at a later time (Read more about and see examples of buildings).

Here are some improvements that the community would like to see on Rosewood Beach:

a)      Combing of  the sand and replenishing the beach with new sand more frequently;
b)      Removal of the wide asphalt walkway along the beach and substituting it with a walkway of  natural materials ( stone, wood) (Read more and see examples about wooden walkways);
c)      Generating and implementing a plan for covering the metal groins on the public beach with boulders like it has been successfully done in neighboring Lake Forest, and on some private lakefront properties. We understand the difficulty of gaining approvals from federal and state authorities and that time is needed to achieve this (Read more about the coastline).
d)     Replacing the existing pier with something more esthetically pleasing (neighboring Glencoe has done a good job with this.)e)      Intensifying work on replanting the bluff with indigenous plants and clearing the bluff to open views of Lake Michigan from Rosewood Park.f)       De-emphasizing the steel and concrete structures overlooking the lake at the end of the parking lot by the ravine outfall by covering these with natural materials and by adding landscaping with indigenous plants.g)      Covering any concrete walks and stairs with natural stone;h)      Removal of any large signs from the beach.
In conclusion, while there are variations in viewpoints and priorities, we believe the above represents the majority of our organization and the members of the community who are most involved and caring. We therefore reject the current proposed plan.This letter was e-mailed to the Ravinia Neighbors Association membership. In order not to misrepresent our members, we wanted to know if anybody disagreed. One member strongly disagreed, two members partly disagreed and one member remained neutral on this issue. Although we didn’t specifically ask for e-mails in support, we have received several dozen in three days.Ravinia Neighbors Association Board authorized President Donald Miller to sign this letter on behalf of the Board:
Donald J. Miller
Below are the comments the Ravinia Neighbors Association (RNA) Board received from its memberhip in response to its letter of August 12, 2010 regarding the Park District of Highland Park building plans on Rosewood Beach.  In order not to misrepresent our membership, we wanted to know if anybody disagreed.  The deadline given was August 16.  A few comments were received  after the deadline.  As of August 23, three members disagreed, one partly disagreed and one remained neutral.
Although we did not specifically ask, we received a flood of comments in support.Here are all the comments we received:August 13, 2010Mr. Andy Cross
Commission Liaison,
Highland Park Department of Community DevelopmentDear Mr. Cross:As a resident of the Ravinia area for nearly 30 years, and a frequent user of Rosewood Beach, I object strongly to the Park District plans to build a large building on the lakefront.  We have so little public access to our beautiful  lake in Highland Park.  This is a wrong-headed, unnecessary and atrocious idea which will mar the beachfront view and detract from the natural surroundings. 

Why does the District think we should cover up the natural beach environment with a man-made structure that includes a large “program room”?  Isn’t the study of nature better down outside? I suspect it is  actually meant to provide a venue for kids to have parties at the beach. If so, those parties should be ON the beach, not in an air-conditioned room where they can look through a window at it.

Doesn’t the District remember that they canceled the previous referendum to “improve” the lakefront due to widespread opposition?  This new attempt appears to be nothing more than an end-run to get around the wishes of the residents, and we resent it.

Please add my comment to those that will be considered at the August 16th meeting. Thank you very much.

Yours truly,

Jean Meier
948 Judson Avenue, Highland Park, IL 60035

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To the Highland Park Design Review Commission:

As a 24 year resident of the Ravinia neighborhood.  I often tell others how fortunate I am to live in such a beautiful community, and within it, in such a unique part of our city. Ravinia has a special feel – we are so proud of our village within a village feel, and of our connections to the earlier artistic community and to the legacy of Jens Jensen.  I am grateful to the Ravinia Neighborhood Association, of which I am a member, for the opportunity to communicate with the City of Highland Park as a unified voice.

I write to share my dismay at the current Rosewood Beach plans. Certainly there are some things which could be done to enhance the experience of being there – things that would also extend the feeling of coming upon the natural beauty of Lake Michigan and the bluff area from Sheridan Road.  But a lakefront “pavilion” is not one of them.

It is and has been a beautiful, meditative spot for a walk, a sit or a swim.  We have Hidden Creek Aqua Park and the Rec Center for those for whom swimming in a manmade setting is preferred.  A new building with rooms for programs, meetings, concessions, etc.??  One question: why?? This will not  ”improve” Rosewood Beach, it will create distraction and remove the feeling of being with nature.  The more “finished” looking the project is, the further removed the area will become from its
natural beauty.

It is my hope that this plan will be shelved and smaller, less costly, more common-sense ‘improvements’ such as those suggested in the attached Statement will be implemented instead, which will certainly improve this important lakefront area and leave the bluff and walkway unencumbered by a manmade structure.

Thank you all for your service to the City of Highland Park.  I do appreciate all of the many benefits of living in our beautiful community!

Sincerely,

Karen Rubinoff
321 Lambert Tree Avenue
Highland Park

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Friday, August 13

I strongly agree with the points in this letter to Mayor Belsky.

Can you make it easiest by setting up an automatic “sign on” with this letter?

I am terribly stressed for time and can’t compose my own well crafted letter.

But this is a superbly crafted proposal for what NOt to do and What Would Enhance the Beachfront.

Thank you and others for your hard work.

Gail Sokol Taxy

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Friday, August 13

You spelled all the concerns out very clearly and effectively. –

Jeff Stern

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Friday, August 13

We agree completely with the statement composed by the Ravinia Neighbors Association and hope the City of Highland Park Design Review Commission will give it serious consideration.
As longtime residents, we understand the value of Rosewood Beach as a natural, inviting oasis free of commercialism. Thank you for noting our concerns and rerconsidering the project.

Dan and Carol Brusslan, 794 Rice Street

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Friday, August 13

You have done a great job putting this together, especially getting rid of the large structure.

Virginia Gordon

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Friday, August 13

We agree with your suggested changes at Rosewood. Thank you.

Adela & Matt Lassen

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Friday, August 13

I think you have thoroughly and beautifully expressed reasons to not overdevelop our lovely beach. Also, great suggestions for more reasonable improvements. Thank you all for your work on this.

Joan Restko

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Friday, August 13

We heartily endorse all your comments.

Sincerely,
Derek & Ursel Norman

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Sunday, August 8

Thank you once again for the update on the Rosewood Beach Improvements.
As long time Ravinia residents we share and support the sentiments as expressed by the Ravinia Neighbors Association Board – namely that the current plans seem to be at odds for the retention of a natural Jensenesque look and feel to Rosewood Beach. Our concern is that the current plans proposed by the Park District seem overly ambitious and physically out of scale for the understated and natural environment of the specific location. The physical dimensions and natural lines of sight along both the beach and bluff, would not only be virtually eliminated but also dwarfed by the proposed new structures.

Our sense is to question the philosophy and practical need for the installation of such an ambitious installation. Rosewood Beach aesthetically demands that less is more. The Park District has indeed done a wonderful job replanting the bluff under the direction of Rebecca Grill – it would be wise to continue this work and the allow the natural lines of the bluff at the intersection with Lake Michigan to remain the dominant features of Rosewood Beach. We believe that the proposed installation would be a major intrusion on the natural scale and contour lines of this wonderful location.

Sincerely,
Derek & Ursel Norman

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Saturday, August 14

I definitely agree with your reasons for objecting to the beach building plans put forth by the Park Department   Another reason to possibly add to your letter’s list:

(3)  It would be a disfigureing blemish and an eyesore to have an industrial structure and a cemented area imposed on a simple setting of a beach that is unblemished and natural and allows now for the wide uninterrupted and peaceful viewing of the water’s edge and the horizon’s vista.  Why would we wish to spoil that?

It’s an astonishingly shortsighted and vapid Park Department plan.  Hopefully it will be rejected.

Best,

Annette Jacobson

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Saturday, August 14

Dear Mayor Belsky,

In the past two weeks I have been appalled by the headlines this city, in which I have lived
for 36 years, has engendered.  I am very disappointed in my city and especially the dishonorable members of the Park District Board who voted for the outrageous pay
spikes and pensions.  (And these are the people who will not let me put up the sign that
has been in Jens Jensen park every summer for over 25 years to announce the Ravinia Farmers Market, which I manage through considerable work for no pay.)

The building that is being proposed for the beach needs to be stopped.  It would take up way too much beach, it would destroy the look of the beach and it would be a total waste of money that, in this economy, the city can ill-afford. Also, the idea to put a huge meeting room in the building is ridiculous, unless only young and fit people will use it.  The rest of us with bad knees or other health problems could not get to it.  What was someone thinking—or were they? Please, put a stop to the senseless spending that some of us cannot afford to pay for in taxes.

I feel that ultimately you and the City Council need to step up and stop the overspending, the abuse of power and some serious breaches in taste that are not in our city’s best interest.

Lydia Davis
678 Judson Avenue

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Saturday, August 14

Thanks Lydia,

I am on the record indicating my disappoint in the Park District’s actions.

While I can certainly express your concerns about the project to the Commisioners what you need to know is that the Park District is a  seperately organized government under the laws of the State of  Illinois. That is their board is independently elected. They have their own budget, their own taxing powers and are in now way governed by the City Council. So even if I publicly ordered them to change their project, they would not have to listen to me. The only people that have authority over them are the voters. I suggest you write the commissioners and or attend their next meeting to express your concerns. You can call De Vona in my office if you need information on the board and their meeting schedule. I will also write a letter expressing your concerns. Please call or right should you need anything else.

Best regards, Mike

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Saturday, August 14

Thanks for putting this together.  I am in 100% agreement with the possible exception of the bathroom location.  Having it across the parking lot is potentially dangerous for kids who may use it..  It should be situated adjacent to the beach in the least obtrusive way (maybe taking part of the parking lot where the trailer is?).

Mark Fisher

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Sunday, August 15

I agree with this statement.  I attended the 2007 focus group session that the Park District and their consulting firm held.  I counted 9 out of 13 focus groups who stated that retention of the natural settings and/or restoration of historic landscapes was most important (there should have been 10 out of 13 groups–the moderator of our group did not convey our group’s conclusion).  I had the distinct feeling that the consultants were pressing for the greatest development based on the leading questions the consultant would ask of each group as he made his rounds of the tables.

I would like to see the Park district spend more money on restoring the landscape of the upper park.  I know that they have done some work to restore the plants around the Jensen pond, but I think that is only a start.  A council ring at the north east corner of the bluff would be a much more appropriate learning center for discussing nature than a room in the building they are proposing.

Thanks for your work on the behalf of our community.

Elliott Miller

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Sunday, August 15

Eva,  Though I’m not all that familiar with the city’s plan, the suggestions in your letter appeal to me much more than the Park District’s.

Sincerely, Janice Widran

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Friday, August 13

Love your letter to the park district

Susan Goldman Sigel, Psy.D.

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Tuesday, August 10

…I want to add a  piece regarding what this develoment is costing beyond  lakefront space, integrity of the bluff and a compromise to the natural feel that this natural space should have. It is compromising the PUBLIC’s use of our prized Lake Michigan. The HP public has 2% of Lake Michigan open for their use (less for a swimming beach).  I see this project  as chipping away at this. I feel frustrated with the double talk of people whose power to make this happen seemingly exceeds my own to suggest that it should not. I need to figure out who will hear this, because the PD definitly did not care about our concerns yesterday.

Liza kept downplaying the costs we presented yesterday while highlighting the benefit of the “Interpretive Center”.  The “Program Room” as it ACTUALLY appears on the plans is being exalted to this fine educational center. Educational centers are designed with display, communication and such teaching ammenities. This space has a fireplace, a pass through window to the concession room and glass walls with views out to the lake. It is not an “Interpretive Center” as it is NOW being tauted.

This brings me to the question of FOR WHOM are will these programs be given in the “Program Room”? Liza has forthrightly stated that  preference will be given to special groups “like the park district summer camp group”. Who else gets preference? The Park District is now the gate keeper to space that is now totally open to the public. Will preference be for those who can pay? For friends of the board or higher ups at the PD whose cause or role is special enough to trump that of public use?

The Park District is  taking a beach that represents 2% of all public access to Lake Michigan and converting part of that to a function that is fuzzy, changing according to Park District whim, compromising to the natural setting’s authentic value and  most definately not open to the public as it currently is…

Best,

Amy Lohmolder

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Friday, August 13

The only statement that I would rectify relates to “no large permanent structure”.  I think a small permanent structure that would accommodate changing and shower areas along with toilet facilities would be appropriate on the beach.  Otherwise very good points brought up.

Lynne Jungman

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Friday, August 13

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments expressed in the letter and will be at the meeting Monday night.

Ken Temkin

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Friday, August 13

Thank you for your efforts on behalf of the Ravinia Neighbors Association and reviewing the proposed plans for improving Rosewood Beach.

But I think you have missed a fundamental issue: there is or should be a lack of confidence and trust in the current Park District board members.  Until that confidence and trust is restored, no capital projects should proceed.

The recent disclosures about payments to retiring staff members which were approved by the current Park District directors show a complete lack of consideration of the interests of citizens and taxpayers.  The Park District has had an edifice complex for quite some time, creating a bigger and bigger organization requiring more and more staff.  When one supervises a larger staff, the managers expect larger compensation.  Apparently, this bootstrap logic prevailed when the retirement packages were prepared for Mr. Volpe and other Park District managers.

As a retired general counsel of both public and private companies, I am outraged at this intentional pocket-picking of taxpayers.  Even in the worst of companies, pensions are based on the average of many year’s compensation, not just the last year; special last year of work bonuses are not allowed to be credited to the base from which pension payments are determined.

Put the cart in front of the horse.  Address the leadership of the Park District, not details of their spending plans.

Sincerely,

Bill Lipsman

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Friday, August 13

Dear All : We have just read the letter being sent to you from the Ravinia Neighbors Association (8/13/10) and we agree wholeheartedly with everything stated in that letter. Rosewood Beach is limited in size. The last thing it needs is a modern structure that looks so completely out of place in the ravine-lake- limited-in-size natural setting.

We need: clean restrooms, bug spray available.  The bugs are unbearable.

Furthermore, we agree with all that is said in the letter urging the park board to make the setting more natural, with use of stones, less asphalt, etc.  We missed the boat in not preventing erosion with an outstanding plan in the previous years, and Lake Forest and Glencoe ran with those plans.  To the letter sent by Ravinia Neighbors, we say “amen.”

Roslyn and Alan Schwartz

____________________

August 14, 2010

Mr. Andy Cross
Commission Liaison,
Highland Park Department of Community Development

Dear Mr. Cross:

As a resident of the Ravinia area for over 40 years, and a frequent user of Rosewood Beach, I object strongly to the Park District’s plans to build a building on the lakefront.  We have so little public access to our beautiful lake in Highland Park.  What is wrong with attaching a few restrooms and a small shelter (shelter, not air conditioned party rooms) to the existing treatment plant building?

I completely agree with the Ravinia Neighbors Association’s comments. I also echo one of my neighbor’s remarks, “Why does the Park District think we should cover up the natural beach environment with a man-made structure that includes a large “program room”?  Isn’t the study of nature better done outside? I suspect it is actually meant to provide a venue for kids to have parties at the beach. If so, those parties should be ON the beach, not in an air-conditioned room where they can look through a window at it… This new attempt appears to be nothing more than an end-run to get around the wishes of the residents, and we resent it.”

One of my daughter’s favorite birthday parties was on her 16th, when her friends met for breakfast on the beach. There was nothing, not even a rest  room at the time.

Please add my comment to those that will be considered at the August 16th meeting. Thank you very much.

Yours truly,

Barbara Haley
911 St Johns Avenue
Highland Park, IL 60035

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Sunday, August 15

To:   City of Highland Park Design Review Commission
Park District of Highland Park
Members of the Highland Park City Council

I would like to present my concerns and objection to the proposed new building at Rosewood Beach.

First, construction of a large new building would fundamentally change the character and feel of a small neighborhood swimming beach.  To support its high cost, the building would be rented out for private parties and corporate use.  This also would change the feeling of this quiet swimming beach.  High future maintenance costs are a certaintly, due to its construction on the bluff.  This new building would expand the budget of the Park District, without any benefit to the residents of the city of Highland Park.

The Park District is basing their claims of public support for this building on a survey asking Highland Park residents the general question of whether they favor lakefront improvement.  The public was informed of this specific plan in July, only a few weeks ago.  The Park District plans to break ground in September, thus pushing through this unpopular plan.

Thank you for taking my comments into consideration.

Kayla Shonberg
861 Highland Place, Highland Park

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Monday, August 16

As a 37-year resident of the Ravinia area, I am in full support of the Ravinia Neighbors Association’s position on the proposed changes at Rosewood Beach.

Over the years, I have watched with great sadness the destruction of the unique, unspoiled character of our neighborhood. On our block alone, 113 mature trees were cut down to make room for two gigantic homes – one of which has remained uncompleted and unoccupied for over four years, only recently succumbing to foreclosure.

The changes proposed for Rosewood Beach are akin to the uncontrolled housing development which has blighted our area: not only are they out of character for our neighborhood, they will eliminate much of our already-small bathing area, and provide no real benefit to the community.

While we have already lost much of the natural beauty of our neighborhood, it is not too late to appreciate and preserve the fragile and unspoiled nature of our precious lakefront and wild areas. Therefore, I request that you honor the amendments the Ravinia Neighbors Association has made to your proposal.

Barbara Thomas
956 Wade Street
Highland Park

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Friday, August 13

Eve:  Good that someone put the criticisms together.

Harold and Dorothy Rafson
42 Indian Tree Drive
Highland Park, IL  60035

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Monday, August 16

I wish to go on record as voting for suggestions made in your recent letter concerning Rosewood.  The idea of building  anything other than a food concession simply doesn’t make sense for the space we have or for our needs either.

Sarah Citron

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Monday, August 16

Dear Eve.

First, thank you for your efforts.  let us hope that they are successful.

Now, it is already August 16, but I hope i am not too late to include my wife and me among those who agree with your letter.  Enough said (for the moment)?

Caryl and Burt Lasko
1211 Linden Ave.
H. P.

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Monday, August 16

Hello, Eve,

I reviewed the building plans available on the Park District’s site, and agree with the concerns expressed by the Ravinia Neighbors Association Board.  Thank you for representing the neighborhood so well!

Jane Conway

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Tuesday, September 7

…I cannot thank you and the RNA enough for all the thorough work you have done and your efforts to get this very oversized project scaled back.

As I mentioned, I fully support an attempt to improve our beaches and beach experience. I think Rosewood beach is in desperate need of permanent bathrooms.  It would be nice to have a small concession stand.

I think the proposed building (though I do find it attractive), is totally unnecessary and would not improve our beach, but would ruin it!  The park district already has such a facility at park avenue beach where programs are run and facilities can be rented out for events.  Why is another such facility needed!?  Will the proposed facility be locked up when programming is not scheduled.  I assume so.  What purpose does that serve?  a guest services room?  What is that for?  I saw one comment that mentioned the sun does not cover much of the beach for many hours so the building would be nice in it’s place.  I strongly disagree!  There are many who love/preferto sit on the sand out of direct sunlight.

The building is oversized for the beach parcel and would detract from the BEACH not improve it.  It is so lovely to walk along the beach path and gaze up and down the shore. All these beautiful site lines and vistas would be gone forever!!…

Lynne Karmin

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I read the RNA letter along with the list of suggestions and I am sooooooooooooo impressed!!!! I echo everything you said and more so.
Yeah to you all.
Sandy Marcus
980 Dean

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Comments from the RNA members who partly disagreed, totally disagreed or remained neutral regarding the Park District building plans on Rosewood Beach:

Friday, August 13

I substantially agree with this although I don’t have a problem with them putting in concessions and an activity room if they just made the whole building smaller.

Paul Smith

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Friday, August 13

I am an RNA member have lived in Ravinia for over thirty years.

Thanks for circulating the draft of your suggestions regarding the Beach proposal.

However, I strongly disagree with the RNA position.

In my opinion, the community is best served by transforming the Beach back into a recreational hub ( which it was when I first moved into the community). The Park District proposal would move in that direct, and I believe that the RNA’s concept would not.

Very truly yours,

Stanton B. Miller

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Sunday, August 15

While this may be the board’s position, I really doubt that this is the sort of broad based position that the majority of the membership would take – but rather the position of an engaged/vocal few. And a few more that would be swayed by their arguments.  When I listened to people comment on the presentation while at the beach the Sunday of our garden walk I certainly didn’t hear unanimity of opinion among the people at the beach. But of course, that’s as unscientific as listening to the few who have spoken up among/to the board.

By all means don’t let me interfere if this is the board’s position. Personally, I think I’ll sit this one out.

Dave Wigodner

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Saturday, August 21

I disagree with the comments.   The  recommendations written below will only lead to many more years of stagnation.  Having a building with multi purpose room, snack bar and restrooms is something we need.

Ron Scheff

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Friday, August 13

You make many good points (starting out on positive note is always good, as I am trying to do here!) in your letter, and I agree with some.

I am IN FAVOR of a permanent structure on the beach.  I was unable to attend the last RNA meeting, where this was discussed; I was unable to attend (and did not even know about) the August 5th meeting; and will be unable to attend the DRC on Monday.  Alas. I do fear that any public furor will further delay any beach improvements.  The positive suggestions at letter’s end are things that can be put in public record for a time when the Park District continues to improve the beach and park above, but if the Park District has to start from scratch – yet AGAIN – we won’t see any improvements in my lifetime.  Really.  This is how I feel.

Peggy Laemle

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Friday, August 13

Hi Andy,

I belong to the Ravinia Neighbors Association, but was unable to attend our last meeting, where Rosewood Beach improvements were discussed.  I also was unable to attend the beach front meeting where the dimensions of the new structure were set out, and cannot attend Monday’s DRC meeting.

Bad timing, because I am in favor of having a structure at the beach, something the RNA opposes.  I miss the one at the south end of the beach walk that was removed a while back, and I can attest to the fact that our family used the tiny concession stand and bathrooms whenever we were at the beach.

A permanent structure would, as stated at the Park District meeting a few weeks ago, provide a place for the lifeguards and their supplies. Changing rooms and showers would enhance being at the beach for all.  And sitting at beach level – even behind glass (or screens?) to get away from the flies and rain – is far superior to watching the waves break from Rosewood Park above. I have forgotten if year round rest room facilities are a part of the plans, but do hope that funding would allow this, for sitting at the beach during winter months would provide more pleasure.

Finally, I note that the sun is not on the entire beach all day, so removing a portion of beach for a building is not a bad thing, especially if proper (comfortable!) seating on the proposed patio is put in place.

I apologize for not having more time to elaborate, but I hope that the Park District will move forward on their building plans (perhaps reducing its size a tiny amount?).  I do not wish for more delays to making our beach a hospitable place to visit – for short or long stays – all year round!

Please forward this to the Park District, as I do not know who their representative will be at Monday’s meeting.

Many thanks,

Peggy Laemle

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…I am a HP resident and own a business here as well.  …After hearing the Park District’s plans for Rosewood, I am outraged.  I spend 3-4 days a week at Rosewood during the spring and fall and appreciate its natural, unobstructed beauty.  I am vehemently against any component of the plan….
Sincerely,

Jeff Henson, DC
Clinical Director
North Suburban Wellness,LLC

Posted in Rosewood Beach | 1 Comment

Rosewood Beach Coastline

Rosewood Beach Coastline Needs Improvement

Sadly, Highland Park public lakefront stands out of all Chicago’s North Shore public beaches by its level of neglect. The biggest eye sore on Rosewood Beach are the unsightly industrial looking steel groins extending into the lake. The groins were placed in the 1970s to help prevent beach erosion. Yet, today there are more attractive ways that can avoid this kind of visual pollution.

To read about Lake Michigan coastal processes in Illinois, please click here: http://www.shabica.com/index_files/Page1467.htm

To read more on issues of coastal erosion, please see the Michigan State University Web site: http://www.geo.msu.edu/geogmich/coastalerosion.html

Over the years, our two other neighbors to the North—Lake Forest and Lake Bluff–have also suffered massive beach erosion like Highland Park. Over the past two decades, both Lake Forest and Lake Bluff have given the coastline on their public beaches a pleasing natural look with stone breakwaters that replaced the steel groins. 

The cost of restoring the coastline can vary greatly depending on the length of the restored coast, the size of the sandy beach created, the complexity of the project, and more.

On Rosewood Beach, the money saved from building more modest public bathrooms instead of proposed large, approx $3 million building could go a long way towards restoring the coast, or possibly even cover the cost, depending on the complexity of the project.

This is how the public lakefront looks in some of our neighboring villages:

Lake Bluff

The Lake Bluff public beach was restored by Shabica and Associates in early 1990s.

At the time the sandy beach south of the pumping station had been washed away by the waves.

According to Shabica and Associates, an approx 20-100’ deep and approx 600’ long beach with stone breakwaters was created for approx $1,000,000.

To read more about the Lake Bluff public beach restoration, please click here: http://www.shabica.com/index_files/Page918.htm

Lake Forest

The Lake Forest public beach was restored in the 1980s by JJR—the company who has also consulted the Park District of Highland Park. For details of the lake Forest project, please click here: http://www.jjr-us.com/?id=1246

Posted in Rosewood Beach | 1 Comment

Coastal Cottage Examples for Rosewood Beach

The permanent bathrooms that Rosewood Beach needs could also be cottage-like. This would be an inexpensive way to get the amenities we need. An unintrusive structure not directly on the small beach would give dominance to  Nature. The money saved from the approx. $3 million dollar Beach House could be used for improvements to bring the lost beauty back to the Rosewood beach area. One great allocation would be to give us a coastline at Rosewood with coves and breakwaters with boulders instead of the metal groins which currently visually pollute the site.

Above are some images from near and far, as a suggestion for a bathroom building. The concession stand could be a separate small structure, if it is needed. 

Inexpensive quaint unintrusive wooden structures are used on many beach areas.  Above are  scenes of New England, and of Scandinavia—the home grounds of Jens Jensen, the dean of American Prairie-style landsape architects whose studio was here in Ravinia.

Posted in Rosewood Beach | 1 Comment

Wooden Walkways on Beaches

The tiny Rosewood Beach has a massive, 10′ wide asphalt driveway all along the public beach.

What About replacing the wide asphalt path with a wooden walkway?

The neglected Rosewood beach has an approx 10’ wide asphalt road-like walk all across the beach area. This leaves only about a 100’ for the sandy beach area at the widest point. And water levels on our shores are almost at record low right now.

This industrial-looking path is unsightly on the beach and it also gets hot in  summer. What about replacing it with a natural material, wood for instance? Please see the above photos for some ideas.

To see what Rosewood Beach currently looks like click here.

Posted in Rosewood Beach | 1 Comment