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Park District Wants More Rosewood Feedback

The Rosewood Beach task force wants to hear from more residents about how to renovate Highland Park's only swimming beach.

The below letter comes from the Park District of Highland Park.

Effective communication begins with listening, and the Rosewood Beach Task Force and the Park District of Highland Park have been doing just that. The Task Force to listen to residents speak about the Task Force's proposed improvement plan for Rosewood Beach. Over 180 people attended the community meetings and 51 residents shared public comment. The volunteer Task Force listened.

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Overall, there appeared to be a consensus that the Rosewood beach improvements are needed, and that the minimalistic and naturalistic building design by David Woodhouse architects is in keeping with what the community wants on their beach. The boardwalk connecting a lifeguard house, concession, and restrooms was met with mostly praise and enthusiasm. The US Army Corp of Engineer's plan to replace the steel groynes with naturalistic wave breaks, expand the beach, daylight the ravine streams, and restore native plantings was also well received, with a few citizens expressing concerns about the potential impact on littoral drift.

Most of the attention focused on the siting of the proposed beach house which would house Park District educational programming and be a gathering and departure point for school groups and camps. This shelter, with three glass walls of windows opening to the beach, would be available for community use and rentals, and be open to the public when not programmed. It would be used to educate actively through programming, and passively through interpretive panels displaying information on the fragile ravine system and ongoing restoration efforts.

The Rosewood Beach Task Force and Park District are responsively listening to all comments submitted through the meetings, and otherwise. Questions asked will be answered on the Park District's website, and all feedback will be shared with the Rosewood Beach Task Force who hope to make a recommendation to the Park Board in June.

There is still time to share your thoughts!

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mkc May 12, 2012 at 12:44 PM
I love the proposed plans. I would like to see the education building able to hold up to 100, allowing for two classes at a time. Additionally, a larger structure might be better suited for rental events, generating more revenue to offset expenses. I would also like to see a multi-age play structure built, even fitness type equipment for station training- balance beam, pull up/push up stations... Great work! Thanks to the Park Board for their hard work on this project and always!
Steve Firestone May 12, 2012 at 02:24 PM
I would like the beach left alone. Changing the beach probably means less beach,.parking, and nature. More accomodations means more people. Also, the Ravine and Moraine beaches should be swimming beaches. Combine the dog and boat launch beaches. More beaches, less "enhancements"!
Doug Purington May 12, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Mike; What? You want an even larger structure?! The PD is already having difficulty justifying the present one which is designed for 50 persons! The beach is there for SWIMMING and RECREATION...nothing more, nothing less! There are countless other locations that will properly support events that you envisage. As for fitness equipment, go to a gym or the rec center! I'm sorry that you don't understand what a beach is for and how best to enjoy it!
forest barbieri May 12, 2012 at 07:17 PM
Great job Park District sans the Interpretive center on the beach. 1,000 sq ft is a 20 x 50 foot print that we simply do not need! Let's either relocate it off the beach as MOST interpretive centers (yes, even beach oriented ones) are, or have a passive one with signage that can be table top, if what all of our National Parks do is too obtrusive for HP. We could have some really cool information as one enters or along the walkway giving us some education but not taking away from both the foot print of the beach...we do not go to the beach to get presentations in a glass stucture...won't that be really hot sticky and humid? My kids go to the beach to play and swim and would cringe at being forced to go to a interpretive center for educational activities but would welcome passive signage. Remember, this eco system is not so diverse relative to a Costa Rica or Hawaii:)
Dan Jenks May 12, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Forest, I think reasonable people can disagree on whether a "beach house" should be installed at Rosewood Beach. It is a question of balancing aesthestics and limited space (which are the strongest arguments that the anti-house side has) versus the benefit people will get from using it. I actually think this structure will get used a lot. Not as an "interpretative center", though. If the only reason the PDHP was building it was for use in their mission to explain the Lake Michigan ecosystem, it would be a giant waste of money. But to argue against the center solely because of its use as a "interpretative center" is a strawman argument - it's missing the point. The more important questions are how often will people will use this structure for birthday parties and, perhaps, adult parties? Will the PDHP offer classes in the off-season? How will it be incorporated into the summer camp program? I'm not a planner - but the opportunity for the public to rent a 3 sided glass house on the beach seems huge to me. And isn't the whole point of the PDHP to collectively provide opportunities for us that individually we might not necessarily be able to afford? I can't afford a swimming pool in my yard, but I can go to the Rec Center. I can't afford a yard large enough to play baseball on, but I can go to any number of parks. I can't afford a house on the Lake Michigan,but may be someday I can rent one for an hour or two................
Jeff Miller May 12, 2012 at 10:35 PM
The beach area should be used for both swimming and education. As an educator, children can get invaluable lessons from having a center where they can study our ecosystems, beachfront and lakefront. The rec center does not provide this. We need to be open minded about this and realize this is for our children. This is not a forum to be mean spirited. A play area near the beach, not on it, makes this a great place for families. Great job by our park district board to make Rosewood a better place for all HP residents.
Amy Lohmolder May 12, 2012 at 11:37 PM
Why is the Park District now referring to the interpretative center as a “beach house which would house Park District educational programming” Is it because 75% of the people commenting said they didn’t want the “interpretive center”? If they rename it will the public be dim enough to think the PD “listened” and actually responded? Please respond by doing more than just sending in the PR people to just change the labels on the plan. The PD seems bent on over-development in the name of “educating kids on how to care about nature” Ironic and sad.
Amy Lohmolder May 13, 2012 at 12:08 AM
This debacle has gone on for years for the reason that the Park District refuses to listen. In meetings years ago their PR people "listened" and learned that what the public wanted was “nature” and attention to the “environment” And then these words started popping up in all their sales literature – even the plan that called for a HUGE structure to be cut into a restored bluff. After much outcry the huge structure was chopped up into a simply very big one and many “auxiliary” swim buildings. Per the 5/2 & 5/6 meetings – the large interpretative center is NOT WANTED on little Rosewood Beach. Please LISTEN and respond appropriately. Nature and Swim facilities, please!!!
mkc May 13, 2012 at 01:03 AM
I think HP should have a beach that is a destination for residents. When living in the city, we'd go to the beach for an entire day. The more there is at the beach, the more opportunities there are for families to get together. I don't understand the comment of the beach is just for "swimming". I rarely swim in Lake Michigan, it's too cold! I love to go to the beach to be with family and friends. If the Park District is going to make something of Rosewood beach, I say go all in and do it right the first time. That includes the multi-purpose glass structure- whatever you want to call it.
Doug Purington May 13, 2012 at 01:34 AM
Children don't need a "beach house", "interpretive center" or whatever you want to call it to learn about or experience nature! It appears that it's the parents wanting this "venue" for their children rather than the children wanting it for themselves! I'll bet that running in the sand, romping in the waves and water, hearing the laughter of people simply having a good time will "float their boats" more than anything else, particularly an unwanted and unnecesary building where it doesn't belong. Rosewood Beach isn't about making money for the Park Distict...it's about the creation of the best naturalistic "fun in the sun" experience for all the residents of Highland Park. So, the sooner this structure is eliminated from the overall plan and the rest of the Woodhouse vision for Rosewood is implimented the better! Time is of the essence for we want a better beach now...we've all waited far too long!
Doug Purington May 13, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Mike: Rosewood Beach, after the wonderful Woodhouse vision is implimented sans the glass building, it WILL BE a destination! The glass building wouldn't add any substantive value on a daily basis as it would be primarily in the hands of event planners and their venue renters. And if it happens to be standing empty at any given moment why would anyone choose to enter there? To escape the beach and nature? I think not! For the Park District to "do it right the first time", they need to scrap the glass building and move forward with the rest of the welcome plan!
Amy Lohmolder May 13, 2012 at 03:55 AM
mkc – Good point. Do you know how may people make the beach a destination for their morning, lunch and evening walks? Quite a few. How many do you think will be able to afford their customary 30 minute respite after the Park District starts charging $10 entry to maintain their glitzy triumph (or attempted triumph) over nature? I think this is in the neighborhood of what Glencoe and Lake Forest charge to maintain their high powered developments (Maybe less for residents, not sure.) That said, some people DO swim at the beach, mkc, and many have waited a long time for facilities. We would have these now if the PD could stop playing games and finally provide simple accommodations for those who want to enjoy an outing with nature.-- 75% have said no “interpretive center” (or “beach house with education” or whatever they want to spin it as – now that they’ve “listened”.)
Eve Tarm May 13, 2012 at 01:37 PM
I wanted to make a comment regarding the size of the proposed interpretive center. I have noticed that in several media articles and also in the Park District distributed information the size of the proposed interpretive center for Park District programming uses is said to be 1,000 square feet. As confirmed by the project architects at the latest Park District public meetings regarding the Rosewood Beach improvements, the size of this building would be 1,950 square feet--twice the quoted size.The foot print suggested is 35'6" X 56'10"
Ed Brill May 13, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Doug, I have asked this question several times with no response. Why is a building ok on the bluff but not on the beach itself? There is room for it, it doesn't cost much, it generates revenue, and it houses programming. Are you and some of your neighbors simply suggesting the bluff because you know there is no interest in that, and that counter proposal becomes a way to try to get no such building built at all? I am also offended that you and others keep representing that the two public hearings came out against the interpretive center. The numbers published above show 3x as many people attended as spoke. Most people wont waste time in a forum like that expressing support - including me. And even several hundred petition signatures against is only about 5% of Highland Park's adult population. Please stop claiming that the elected PDHP board is doing anything other than what elected officials do versus having some kind of "agenda".
Doug Purington May 13, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Ed; I'll say it again, as many of us have said over and over. Rosewood is about swimming and relaxing amd recreation...nothing more, nothing less! We have no problem with an "interpretive center"...it just doesn't belong on the beach. The Woodhouse vision for Rosewood is superb and will result in greatly imcreased usage on a much more regular basic. That alone will max out the limited parking area. The IC and the expected usage that the Park District predicts will overwhelm the parking area and interfere with residents who want nothing more than to enjoy being outside with their family and friends and have fun in the sun in a wondrous setting! As for the PD agenda, why do they now refer to the building as a "beach house" rather than an "interpretive center" and continue to reference the building's footprint as being 1,000 sq.ft. when it is actually closer to 2,000?! All, I'm sure, to sway public opinion in their favor! As for the public hearings, it was just as important for those in favor of the IC to speak up as it was for those of us against. Of those who did speak up one way or the other, especially on Sunday, the majority WAS against the IC! As for the supporters who assumed the IC was a lock and didn't speak up, I say "you snooze, you lose"! As for the bluff, that's only one of sevenm very viable options...all of which the PD should be investigating at this moment. If not, then it clearly shows that they already have their minds made up despite public feedback!
Annette Jacobson May 13, 2012 at 05:27 PM
It's hard to understand why there is no public response or even discussion by the PD of the real site alternatives that were strongly suggested for the IC in the 2 public meetings and in the RNA newsletter. There seems to be an intransigence also by the task force to even mentioning publicly the 3 (at least) possible alternatives ON THE LAKE at Millard park and Moraine park bluff and beach: the Schaffner estate, the Old Yacht Club, and the former water treatment plant at the end of Ravine Drive, (this one close to the trout stream experiment site) Each of these sites should be studied by the builder and the architects and formally reported on before any decision is made to arbitrarily crowd an already built up small beach with more parking, traffic, school buses, and much less open natural space. It would be short-sighted to do anything less.
forest barbieri May 13, 2012 at 10:21 PM
Dan: I reiterate that I commend the Park District and the plan with the one caveat. You know I always respect your opinions and interesting that the concept seems to be moving from an "interpretive Center" which does not seem to universally resonate to a "Beach House", a broader and perhaps less resistant take on things. Certainly, the ability to provide a community focused facility that generates both interest and revenue, relative to a party and activity center has merit. Is the trade off of having it right on the beach and losing beach footprint versa other possibilities the right thing to do? Is a 3 sided glass building the most practical in terms of HVAC, comfort and maintenance? Does it qualify as the same experience as a house on the beach? Not sure! However, I am in no way against the improvements the Park District is suggesting and applaud them for how they got here. My concern was the heavy focus on an interpretive center that seemed to represent a minority view, contrary to Ed's opinion which by the way is always sporting fun to disagree with, which was VERY vocally being presented as an Educational Opportunity we could not possibly pass on. I simply felt it was indeed an idea that we could if not pass on, certainly find a more passive way to include it into the project. At the end of the day, I want to see the project completed and would not be sad if the "interpretive center" got lost along the way :) Best
Aaron Wolff May 14, 2012 at 01:01 AM
Forest Barbier's comment that the Iinterpretive center would be only 1000 sq. ft. overlooks that the center would include bathrooms that make the I-Center almost 2000 sq. ft. As the architect said at both meetings last week, the center would be about 1960 sq. ft. Moreover, other bathrooms are scheduled on the beach, further making the I-Center totally unnecessary and a blight on this small beach that does not need more than the three other small structures proposed, one of which is for the bathrooms. Aaron Wolff
Dan Jenks May 14, 2012 at 03:59 AM
Forest, I always appreciate your point of view and your willingness to take positions regardless of their popularity. I agree with your assessment that whether to build this beach house/interpretative center is all about weighing trade-offs - it's a judgment call. I will grant that Rosewood is a small beach with limited parking - so even if one believes that this building will be well used (which I think will be the case), it isn’t a no brainer to build it given the space limitations. I certainly think ideas like this are well within the scope of what the PD should be considering – and kudos to them for putting a plan out there for discussion. At the very least, given the debate on Patch, it seems like almost everyone (except David) is in favor of the rest of the Woodhouse plan – which will be a huge improvement over the status quo. Now, if the PD can only take care of the biting fly problem………..
D May 15, 2012 at 01:28 AM
I don't think the proposed IC will overwhelm the parking lot. My family goes to Rosewood almost daily and only on a few occasions (late afternoons on a handful of weekends) the parking lot full. Most days it is surprisingly empty. When full ~25-35% of cars dont have city stickers. Enforce the parking rules like every other beach on the lake and you have more parking. Add bike racks and safe bike/pedestrian access via sidewalks along Sheridan (can use the existing ravine trail as well) and many more people would bike to the beach as well. If it really gets crowded cars can use the upper parking lot which I have never seen with more than 2 cars in it. Net net parking shouldn't be an issue - completely avoidable. I also don't think a majority of people are against the IC. I do think that there are vocal opponents but there are also vocal supporters. Lets not assume that the PD is ignoring the majority just because they have a different opinion than yours. Last I checked this was not a referendum where it is majority rules. The board has been elected by the public and they are entrusted by us to maintain and improve our parks. I am glad they are seeking community input and putting forward a plan for the future but lets remember it is input not voting. Just like we don't get to decide what time the swimming pool opens or the what it costs to play a round of golf. It is the PD Board's responsibility and we voted for them to make these kinds of decisions.
D May 15, 2012 at 01:32 AM
The PD did a full review of all of the beaches along the lake front a few years back. Each beach had a designated purpose. There was a master plan and development of that plan got put on hold because of the cost/economy. What is now proposed for Rosewood is very consistent with the Master Plan. Putting elements from Rosewood elsewhere would not be consistent with the Master Plan and would require a complete redo of the Master Plan. It is my understanding that when the Master Plan got put on hold the PD decided to proceed with Rosewood per the plan and work on the other beaches in the future. Doesn't make sense to do this piecemeal - much better as part of a big picture overall plan.
D May 15, 2012 at 01:38 AM
Amy - I have heard nothing about the PD charging a per entry use of Rosewood. Lets not speculate. Also Glencoe and Lake Forest do charge but they also have a very low priced family season pass. As far as I know there is no plans for HP PD to do anything other than require a city parking sticker (which by law we are all required to have anyway) to park at the beach. So I don't see how the IC will iterfere with your beach walks. It is already a great place for walking and with the proposed upgrades it will be an even nicer place to walk along the beach. If you personally don't have any use for the IC then don't go in it. I don't play tennis but that doesn't mean I protested the PD plans to have tennis courts in some parks. The PD is trying to provide various amenities for a wide variety of interests, sports, ages, etc. Not every facility will be 100% needed by all of us but from what I can see the PD is doing a great job trying to maximize its resources for our city.
D May 15, 2012 at 01:40 AM
Not wanted by some yes but please don't assume not wanted by all. There are many people who want the IC. OK if you have a different point of view but you don't speak for 28,000 residents. None of us do.
D May 15, 2012 at 01:42 AM
Outdoor fitness equipment along the lake is a great idea. Under the current plans the beach becomes much much larger than today so it wouldn't make the beach smaller than today. Great idea.
Jeff Miller May 15, 2012 at 01:46 AM
The reason why things rarely get done is because of short sightedness as shown above by Doug and Amy. No one is saying we don't want a beach to play on. The beach house or whatever name it has can make money for HP. It also is a wasted opportunity if we do not also make it a place for children to learn. Since the children are not tax payers, I do not recall them having a voice in what happens in and around HP, Ed. No one is saying HP will charge money. Where is that misstatement coming from, amy? If you want to swim, swim. If you want to make HP a place for all, then do it. Stop holding us back from growing beyond what our neighbors to the north and south are doing.
Doug Purington May 15, 2012 at 03:54 PM
Molly's Dad: By no means are Amy & I & others against the IC "shortsighted"! There are plenty of ways that HP can "make money" besides polluting the only swimming/recreational beach in all of HP with a structure that would detract from its naturalistic attributes! The purpose of the Rosewood plan, so beautifully envisioned by David Woodhouse, is to enhance the beachfront for sheer enjoyment purposes while maintaining and supporting the natural environment...NOT to make money! And why do we want to be "growing beyond what our neighbors to the north and south are doing"? We're not in a competition here...we just want a beachfront, with the logical and minimalistic amenities, that will constantly beckon the residents of HP to a pleasurable experience! The IC, at Rosewood Beach, is NOT needed for that purpose. HP is unique in having tons of opportunities and venues for children to learn and experience life and all it has to offer. If another venue is needed, then the IC can be built elsewhere and accomplish the same goals.
Jeff Miller May 19, 2012 at 12:52 PM
The ic is not needed by you, doug. You are not a child who is a lifelong learner. A beautiful beach can be enjoyed by all, doug. I don't care to make money on this..I want something we all want. You simply don't agree with what that is.
Doug Purington May 19, 2012 at 06:34 PM
Yes, I don't agree with you and that's OK. However, there are hundreds of people who feel exactly as I do....that we want a beautiful beach to enjoy...we just don't need an IC to do just that! You state that "I want something we all want". Of course, this statement is far from the truth! The residents of HP are deeply divided on this subject and by no means is "ALL" applicable to either position. The Rosewood Beach Task Force is now investigating alternative sites for the IC. Hopefully, this open minded approach will yield the wonderful beach we ALL want with the IC appropriately placed elsewhere!
Jeff Miller May 20, 2012 at 03:52 AM
It is hard to reason with someone who indiscriminately uses the exclamation mark, Doug. I do want something we all want, a beach for all. You are so caught up with "Doug's World" you forget that children are part of this equation too. It is only open minded in your world if it is what YOU want. I call that selfish.

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