Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was submitted by Larry McCotter on behalf of the board of Lake Bluff Open Lands Association. It represents the writer’s opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to respond to this, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy on Reader Forums.
By Larry McCotter on behalf of the board of Lake Bluff Open Lands Association.
There will be an informational session held Saturday, September 15th at 10:30AM at the Lake Bluff beach North Shelter for the purposes of introducing a new report generated by the Sunrise Park and Beach Citizen Advisory Committee.
The Committee seeks public input regarding their plan and the Board of Directors of Lake Bluff Open Lands Association (LBOLA) believes that it is important for the public to be aware of the contents of the plan in advance of the meeting.
(Editor’s note: on Friday afternoon, Sept. 7, GazeboNews requested a copy of the proposal from the Lake Bluff Park District; click on the following to review: Sunrise Park and Beach-Preliminary Concept Plan Priorities
LBOLA’s Mission is the preservation and restoration of natural areas in Lake Bluff. That commitment includes the lake, the bluff and the beach – including two prairies planted by LBOLA in 1985 and maintained by us since that time.
We love the fact that our beach, throughout 115 years of Lake Bluff’s existence, has remained an open, unobstructed and natural area where we can go to enjoy water, sand, sun during the day – and darkness at night.
Survey results show that Lake Bluff residents support improving the beach and the Advisory Committee has put together a list of possible improvements.
The following are observations and comments on the proposed plan from LBOLA’s Board of Directors.
SHORT TERM GOALS
# 1 Improve Existing Restrooms – $16,000
We fully support this item.
# 2 Signage at Entry Points – $7 – $10,000
We support adequate, economical, tasteful signage.
# 3 Shower at Dog Beach Including 5′ x 5′ Concrete Pad – $6,000.00
While questioning the need for a concrete pad, we expect this to be popular among dog owners.
# 4 Dog Beach Enclosure – 30’ aluminum picket fence. $2,500
The photo caption says “Match existing split rail fence”, which makes sense. On the other hand, the bullet points call for a six-foot tall aluminum picket fence which, to us, seems out of character for the Lake Bluff beach. One of the wonderful aspects of going to the beach is being able to look north, east and south and enjoy the unimpeded views of the entire lake. Visually a six-foot tall fence would unnecessarily block open views to the north. The expensive aluminum materials would likely not survive the movement of winter ice.
# 5 Recycle bins anchored to concrete pad – $4,500
We strongly support the use of high quality recycling bins at the beach, but question the need for more concrete here.
# 6 Lighting – $24,000
The plan’s photo is of a 4′ bollard. The text describes a 12′ lighting pole.
LBOLA’s board is in favor of maintaining the beach in as natural a state as possible. It is our opinion that existing yellow, high-pressure sodium (HPS) lighting is unattractive, out of character with the Lake Bluff beach and unacceptable. The use of four-foot bollards is at least on an appropriate scale and “warm color temperature” LED lighting would be an improvement on the existing yellow HPS lamps. We feel that nighttime visits to the beach should include the experience of being able to see stars above and the lake stretching to the moonrise on the horizon. We concede that lighting the road and path up and down enhances safety. Bringing lighting down to and onto the beach, however, is a violation of the spirit of what the Lake Bluff beach is supposed to be about and we further support the removal of lighting from the NSSD structure as well.
# 7 Enclosed Grill, Stone Pedestals & Counters – 10′ x 8′ Concrete Pad – $7,500.00
Someday it will be appropriate to replace existing grills, though they’re “grate” as is. Proposed 10’ x 8’ concrete pad is excessive and unnecessary. The beach is for sand! We wonder how the expensive ornamental stone will look after several winters in the elements?
#8 Redesign and Reconstruct Stairs to North Shelter. 76′ grade change. $225,000 – 275,000
We support an improvement over the existing stairs that run from the top of
the bluff to the access road. Current standards call for a maximum
seven-inch rise between steps. The rise in the existing stairs ranges
between seven and eleven inches and some steps appear to be excessively
steep and dangerous. We note that there already is a wooden staircase from
the access road to the North Shelter and question if that really needs to be completely redone. Further, we note that “Trex” materials have developed a
terrible reputation for mold problems and would prefer to see a more natural
wooden structure. If the lower stairs to not really need to be redone,
perhaps costs would be significantly reduced.
# 9 John Deer XUV 550S4 $20,000.
This proposed vehicle would appear to be the solution to many accessibility issues. We note that this vehicle retails for $9,400 at johndeer.com
# 10 Beach Accessibility – “Trex” Boardwalk to North Shelter – $100,000
We agree there should be an accessible beach shelter. There is a major concern with the proposed amount of beach permanently committed to concrete or decking. If a boardwalk were extended to the south shelter rather than the north shelter, that would reduce permanently covered sand from 3,100 SF to 1000 SF and reduce costs proportionately. Additionally, we note that the John Deer vehicle will also create accessibility for disabled visitors in a safer, more reliable manner. Boardwalk lighting, again, runs afoul of the Park District’s historic vision for the beach. “Trex” decking has developed a terrible reputation for mold problems. Winter ice and “Noreaster” storm wave-action should always be considered with proposed “permanent” beach structures.
# 11 – Showers – Two For People – $20,000.
We support additional showers at the beach.
# 12 Bluff Restoration Plan – Per Plan By P. Clifford Miller, Inc.
We enthusiastically support the restoration of the bluff as soon as possible according to P.Clifford Miller’s plan. LBOLA has a long history working with Mr. Miller – as does the Lake Bluff Park District. His report’s contention that the removal of invasive species from the bluff should be considered the highest priority is something that we endorse and practice in all LBOLA managed properties. We strongly encourage the Committee to recognize the bluff as a botanical treasure that must be cared for and protected! (see # 8 above and Widen Entry Road below)
MID TERM PRIORITIES
Shade Structures -Framed Cabanas – On a Concrete Pad. $20,000 Each.
We believe that Shade Structures are called trees and that Lake Bluff residents go to the beach for sand and water – not concrete. View obstructions will be a major issue as will who has the “right” to use each structure. This unspecified quantity of Shade Structures will surely encounter storm and ice problems as well? Perhaps the Park District could provide several portable beach umbrellas instead.
Viewing Area From Bluff – 15′ x 15′ With Modest Landscape Improvements. $22,000.
Our position is that Sunrise Park above the bluff IS a viewing area from the bluff and would not be enhanced by translucent railings. Further, any well intentioned “landscape improvements” will inevitably destroy fragile and threatened native vegetation.
Replace Entry Road Guard Rail – $70,000
We support this recommendation.
Drinking fountains, New and Renewed 5’ x 5’ concrete pads. $7,000.00
We support this recommendation. It’s a good idea and fills a need. Does not require concrete.
LONG TERM PRIORITIES -
Guard House/Office/Restrooms, $320,000
Residents have a longstanding desire for restroom improvements on the North Beach and restroom additions at the South. Might upcoming work at the North Shore Sanitary District facility incorporate this structure at the S. beach?
Boat Storage Improvements – Concrete Paving – $60,000
If the NSSD builds their proposed million-gallon underground storage tank beneath the existing Yacht Club, we expect the Club will benefit from that work. Does the yacht club prefer a concrete to sand? Given the level of private security patrolling the beach, we feel security lighting is unnecessary and inappropriate at beach.
Widen Entry Road – $1,500,000
LBOLA is completely and inalterably opposed to widening the road. The result of a five-foot widening would do tremendous harm to the bluff including the disturbance of at least another 10’ stretch up the length of the bluff and result in the loss of numerous mature trees and innumerable spring ephemeral wildflowers. Widening would surely result in vehicles traveling at higher speeds and greater risk to pedestrians who share the road with the very limited number of permitted vehicles. Whose interested is served by this?
Maintenance storage garage within Boat Storage Area. 20′ x 20′ concrete. $20,000
If the maintenance facility within the boat storage area is 20’ x 20’, how big will the entire boat storage facility be? Where is maintenance equipment currently stored?
Brick Screening for NSSD – including landscape improvements Trees / vines? $29,000
While brick may not be the answer, the appearance of the NSSD building should absolutely be improved in a creative manner.
Plastic Swim platform – 15′ x 15′ $10,000
We are mildly in agreement with this item. Sustainability in winter ice, and high waves should be a consideration for such an investment. And plastic? How about wood?
Shelter Renovations – $15,000
We support improvements and updates to existing shelters.
Benches – 9 Benches On 10′ x 5′ concrete pads – $18,000
We support a reasonable number of subtle and sustainable benches at the beach. We also question why a four or five-foot bench would need a ten-foot concrete pad.
Bike Rack – anchored to concrete pads $1,500
We support this item.