Task Force Takes On Rosewood Beach Concerns
After hearing residents out at two community meetings, task force meets to figure out what's next.
After holding two community meetings at the beginning of May, park district staff brought a list of questions asked during the meetings by residents to the Rosewood Beach Task Force, which met Monday.
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"We wanted to make sure this is a project people could participate in," Park District Executive Director Liza McElroy told Patch last week. "We're still strongly encouraging people to weigh in online."
According to McElroy, a majority of residents favor the proposal, with one caveat: the beach house, a small structure that would be located on the beach and made available for rentals and programs throughout the year.
"Some people don't think it belongs on the beach," McElroy said.
At its meeting on Monday, the task force discussed what they heard online and at the community meetings. The group's chairman, Dave Fairman, requested more analysis about the shelter's proposed programming, as well as the feasibility of the alternative sites, according to a statement issued by the Park District Tuesday.
“We need to be sure that given its purpose and function, Rosewood is the best location for this beach house,” Fairman said. “We’re not just looking for a place to put it, we’re looking for the best place for its intended use.”
In light of the mounting concerns over the structure's environmental footprint and the potential for blocked views, the task force has agreed to hold its May 21 meeting at Rosewood Beach, according to the statement.
“We owe it to the community to really take a good look and understand fully what the views will be from each point on the beach and parking lot,” Fairman said.
Those opposed to the beach house have been blogging and commenting on Patch, in addition to voicing their concerns at the community meetings. Some readers, like Peter Lucas, think that the beach house, which has been frequently referred to as an interpretive center, might be better suited somewhere else in the community.
"The Ravine Drive Beach structure would be a good alternative," he wrote. "Why not make better use of a structure at Ravine Dive that has withstood the test of time and the forces of the lake and keep Rosewood a swimming beach?"
Annette Jacobson wondered in Patch's comments section whether or not the shelter would be better suited on a beach where it could be the sole draw.
"Why can't the [interpretive center] be located at a better place devoted for its sole use, with open uncrowded views, its own natural surrounding, a place for contemplation, rather than on a crowded recreational-use beach?" she wrote.
Others, however, are in favor of the entire Rosewood plan. Ed Brill wrote a column for Patch outlining why he supported the plan, and Highland Park High School senior Bryce Robertson explained his support in the comments section of Brill's piece.
"My own research backs a useful need for the interpretive center, and frankly, would be a welcome addition to the otherwise lackluster and boring Rosewood Beachm" he writes. "Highland Park's high school and young adult population would love a usable beach."
According to McElroy, the task force hopes to make its recommendation regarding Rosewood to the park board in June. No construction will begin until the end of the summer.
"Nothing will happen in advance of the fall," McElroy said. "We want to try and limit disruption to the beach season."
Regardless of how that recommendation ultimately looks, the park district staff is thrilled at the public involvement in the project's development.
"We put a call out for comments and we got them," said Margaret Gienger, the Park District's Director of Communications and Marketing. "It's a welcome surprise."