City Council Approves Rosewood Beach Redesign
The City Council voted on Monday to approve the Rosewood Beach redesign proposal. Construction is expected to begin next summer.
The Highland Park City Council voted unanimously on Monday to approve of the Rosewood Beach redesign proposal. Construction is expected to begin next summer.
"I will take a great deal of pride that I'm part of a governing body that will restore the beach," said newly appointed City Councilman Sally Higginson before casting her vote in favor of the redesign.
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The plan that the park district board passed in August was recently approved by both the Design Review and Natural Resource Commission. Monday was the first time the project had been discussed at length by the City Council.
The Park District of Highland Park Board of Commissioners voted to approve the Rosewood Beach redesign proposal after over a year of intense planning, beach tours and sometimes heated public debate. In addition to the controversial interpretive center that has frequently been the sole component of the plan to provoke opposition from residents, the plan also includes a guard house, restrooms, concessions and a boardwalk.
The total estimated cost for the project is $4,661,372.
The City Council began discussing the proposal at the end of a packed meeting that included the appointment of Patch columnist Sally Higginson to the City Council, a tax hike and the approval of a water plant upgrade.
"We're one of just 13 communities along Lake Michigan," said Park Board President Scott Meyers while discussing the project before the City Council. "It is our responsibility to teach our children about this natural resource."
Members of the community spoke both against and in favor of the plan, though Mayor Nancy Rotering was quick to point out to speakers on both sides that the City Council was only judging the project based on whether or not it broke any city ordinances.
"Our purview is a narrow area," Rotering said. "Have the standards in our city ordinances been met?"
The message seemed to go mostly disregarded. Many speakers presented arguments against the interpretive center similar to those that they had presented at park district meetings earlier this year.
"My two twins are 10 months old, I don't have plans to take them to the beach and put them in a building," said David Greenberg, who spoke against the plan. "I have plans to take them to the beach and put them in the sand to play as I did when I was a child."
Amy Lohmolder brought up the petition that over 1,000 residents signed against the interpretive center, and said that the city's governing bodies had disregarded these objections.
"The public is being ignored again and again," she said.
Ravinia Neighbors Association President Don Miller asked the City Council to accept the project proposal, but scrap the interpretive center.
"I've seen what happens to buildings built close to the waterfront," he said.
Others spoke in favor of the plan, including members of the community group Friends of Rosewood.
"Without Lake Michigan, there would be no Chicago, no Highland Park or Waukegan," said Friends of Rosewood member David Schneiderman, arguing in favor of the redesign.
After about a half hour of residents speaking about the project, City Council members began discussing their thoughts on the beach, the design and the process itself.
"The park district has listened considerably to the input of the community," Councilman Paul Frank said. People from the Ravinia Neighbors Association, I think it's important you recognize your impact on this project."
Councilman David Naftzger said that these decisions are difficult, and applauded the residents involved for a "healthy debate."
"We do simply need to move on," he said.
Meyers said called the vote gratifying, and applauded the City Council for thoroughly reviewing the project materials.
"It's been a long and arduous process," he said. "I'm glad that we are now in a position where we can move forward and actually give our community the beach they deserve."