Rosewood Doesn't Need An Interpretive Center
A reader responds to a Patch reader's blog to explain her opposition to the park district's renovation at Rosewood Beach.
No doubt the benefit and reward from most of the planned redevelopment for Rosewood Beach planned this year by the Park District of Highland Park presents a welcome vista for the near future of our community.
It's certain a great idea for Rosewood to have, for the first time, permanent restrooms, a children's playground, revamped picnic area, a concession area, new naturalistic wave breaks to stabilize the sand, etc., -- all while combining the environmental and aesthetic needs of this very special beach.
But the inconsistent idea of adding a "multi-purpose beach house" structure -- ("fantastic" as enthusiasticly lauded by Ms. Holleman) is contradictory and incongruous to the whole confident conception the park district presents.
This proposed structure of 2000 sq. ft. -- as confirmed by its architect at the last PD staff meeting -- (not 1000 as Ms. Holleman states) -- is to be an "interpretive center", with conference room, a children's camp in the summer, with school buses delivering and picking up each day, and rentals of the space for "specified events" and for "special groups."
It's difficult to envision how the increased traffic and exhaust of school buses barreling down into a natural beach would enhance the special and benign environment of this once peaceable spot. Also there is no way to create more parking area without taking more beach away.
Consideration is given to the Park District mention of an extension planned for the beach area. That's fine. But that would presumably already encompass the new space for all the exciting aforementioned new projects of playground, sand volleyball area, enhanced picnic area, concession stand with patio, and of course the permanent restrooms, lifeguard storage area and walkways, etc.
All of those new units are obviously an enhancement to the purposes of the only swimming beach in Highland Park. An "interpretive center" with rental goals of income to pay for its perennial maintenance has no relation to the scope of a neighborhood swimming beach. It's wasteful and redundant also in duplicating restrooms which are planned separately nearby, would be rarely used 2 seasons of the year, would need extra security costs all year, and would be obtrusive on this beach.
This picture of a crowded beach congested with school buses, a large structure impinging on the intrinsic horizontal scale would change the peaceful, formerly natural and public-serving purpose of this swimming spot -- ESPECIALLY since there are at least 7 other places at or near the lake where this "interpretive center" could be placed that would be less disruptive to the final project of Rosewood beach -- (all of those places cavalierly dismissed, no reasons given, by Ms. Holleman)
These places are listed in my previous article.
The whole question of the prospective cost to the taxpayer I leave to others, although I'm wary of the PD's pre-emptive assurance of "no taxpayer cost." Another question is the appropriateness of rental to private parties of limited public space.
The public now has only 2 percent of its shoreline open for public use. This rental structure would mean a loss of lakefront space, further compromising the public's use of its prized proximity to Lake Michigan.
Place this "interpretive center" (if needed) elsewhere.