Park Board Talks Rosewood Redesign Costs
With the vote only a week away, the board continues to solicit feedback from residents and information from park district staff about the proposed redesign of Highland Park's sole swimming beach.
The Park District Board of Commissioners is likely to vote on the Rosewood Beach redesign at next Thursday's meeting. In the meantime, board members continue to solicit feedback from residents as well as cost information about the plan from park district staff.
At its July 12 workshop meeting, the park board heard specifics about the proposed redesign's cost, both for its construction and for maintenance going forward.
The project's construction is estimated to cost $4,661,372. $850,000 of that will come from grants awarded to the park district, $971,000 will come from money set aside by the park district and the remaining $2,840,371 will come from the park district's reserve fund. No additional taxes would be levied on residents for the improvements, according to the park district.
The Highland Park News has an informative breakdown of the project's costs. The article points out that the most expensive piece of the project is the wooden planks for the proposed boardwalk, which is estimated to cost $890,000. The controversial interpretive center is estimated to cost between $579,000 and $630,000. The proposed other buildings, which include a guardhouse, concession stand and restrooms, are estimated to cost $276,000.
Residents voice support, opposition to plan
But at last week's meetings, residents were less concerned about the cost of the project than they were the design itself. Members of two community groups in favor of and opposed to the redesign spoke primarily to voice their support or opposition for the plan.
"Not everyone in Ravinia concurs that this is not a good idea," said Peggy Miller, a Ravinia Neighbors Association (RNA) member who has deviated from her group's opposition to the plan. "Some of us think this is a very good idea."
RNA Publicity Director Doug Purington said that his group favors the plan except for the interpretive center, and asked the board to consider approving the plan without the building and revisiting it later.
"Why can't the interpretive center be taken out of the plan and voted on 60 days later?" he asked.
Richard Heineman, a member of Friends of Rosewood (FOR) voiced his support for the plan, including the interpretive center.
"If you build this I may actually start using [the beach]," Heineman said.
RNA member and Patch blogger Amy Lohmolder advised the board against making the vote all-or-nothing.
"Residents have waited way too long for just the very basic thing of bathrooms for it to be all or nothing," she said. "The interpretive center is really a ridiculous thing to put on this beach.
President defends up or down vote
After the meeting, Park Board president Scott Meyers reiterated why the vote would be up or down for the entire plan.
"What [the task force] brought us is an integrated holistic vision for the beach," Meyers said. "It would not be appropriate for us to start lopping things off."
The park board will discuss the beach at next Thursday's meeting. If the board feels ready to vote, Meyers says he will call for one. If the plan fails, Meyers added, the board will get to work on revising it.
"The fact that it's up or down doesn't mean if it fails we're not going to build anything on the beach," Meyers said. "We will definitely do something on Rosewood."
Stakes and flags have been placed at Rosewood Beach to mark the location and size of each of the four buildings recommended by the Rosewood Beach Task Force. The Park Board encourages residents to view the footprint on the beach and provide feedback.
"We're going out of our way to make sure we're making an informed decision," Meyers said. "That doesn't necessarily mean we agree with all the comments that come in, but that doesn't mean we won't take them into consideration and evaluate them as part of the process."