Group Voices Rosewood Complaints to City Council
Ravinia Neighbors Association heads to Monday's City Council meeting to object to the interpretive center that's part of the proposed Rosewood Beach redesign.
After months of speaking out against the proposed Rosewood Beach redesign online and at Park District meetings, the Ravinia Neighbors Association (RNA) has taken its concerns to another source: the Highland Park City Council.
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At Monday's meeting, the community group asked the city council to "note our deep concerns" about the plans, according to an email sent out by Ravinia Neighbors Association last week. The focus of the objection is the proposed interpretive center, a roughly 1900 square-foot building the organization feels doesn't belong at Rosewood.
"We like the plan," RNA Publicity Director Doug Purington told Patch last week. "We've seen [architect] David Woodhouse's perspectives and we're fully in support of the entire concept, without the interpretive center."
An unprecedented move
The redesign proposal has been developed over the past year by a task force assembled by the Park Board. Working with a construction manager and David Woodhouse architects, the group has been meeting regularly to assemble a plan that they will bring to the Park District Board of Commissioners on June 21.
"We've worked so hard on this for a year and we don't appreciate this attempt to blatantly go around what we've been working on," Task Force Chairman Dave Fairman said at a Task Force meeting last Monday.
Fairman expressed concern that RNA's statement Monday could encourage the City Council to eventually vote against the project, assuming it's approved by the Park Board at the end of this month.
"It would be unprecedented that our efforts would be ignored because for a special interest group things weren't going their way," Fairman said.
Purington told Patch that the Task Force has "a set agenda" regarding the interpretive center, and hopes that the public objection will rattle their resolve.
"The residents of Highland Park are being given lip service by the Task Force," Purington said. "We don't feel the Park District is being very fair."
An open process
Before Monday's meeting, Councilman Paul Frank told Patch he was glad that RNA members would be speaking. Though the City Council is not actively participating in this project yet, it will eventually.
"It does make sense for all of us on the council to pay attention to this discussion," Frank said.
The councilman also commended the Park District for its transparency throughout the design process. The Park District held two community meetings to get feedback from residents.
"The Park Board has done a great job seeking public input and discussing the project and being very open with their process," Frank said.
After some residents spoke against the interpretive center at the community meetings, the Task Force met on Rosewood Beach to see where the controversial building would be placed and whether or not it would feel obtrusive. The group voted 6-1 to keep the building in the plan after, though at its last meeting the group approved a version of the building that would be slightly smaller than the 1,960 square-foot structure first proposed.
"We have listened," Task Force member Barney Ruttenberg said. "We've made accommodations."
But reducing the size of the building has not appeased those who don't want it there to begin with. According to Purington, the RNA wants the Park District to put the interpretive center somewhere else.
How they'll vote
City Councilman Steve Mandel feels the same way. However, he doesn't feel his opinion on the Park District's plan should affect whether or not the plan goes forward.
"I personally might not agree to do things the way the Park District did but that's not what I'm elected to do," Mandel said, pointing out that the two governing bodies are separate entities.
The councilman currently serving his fourth term while also campaigning for Lake County Board believes the City Council should sign off on the Park District's plan assuming it meets all land use ordinances the city has in place.
"Whatever we have on our land use ordinance is what we have to look at," Mandel said. "It would have to not meet a standard in our city ordinance … to not vote for it."
Frank, on the other hand, is less sure about how he and other councilmen will vote should the proposal eventually land in the council's agenda.
"No one can say what the ultimate outcome is going to be," Frank said.
Check back later this week for more about the Rosewood project, as well as an in-depth look at a Task Force meeting.