Readers Argue Both Sides of Rosewood Project

Here's why readers are for and against the Park District's proposed renovations Rosewood Beach.

The  may have gotten more than it bargained for when it  to its plans to redevelop .

If you've been reading Patch lately, you've noticed there's been no shortage of opinions on the issue.

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According to a FAQ recently posted about the development , the proposed plan includes a boardwalk along the beach, a guard house, a concession stand, restrooms, picnic areas, a sand volleyball court, outdoor showers, a beach playground and improvements to the ravine walk and bluff stairs. 

The estimated cost of the project is about $3.7 million, and would be funded through grants and reserves, according to the FAQ.

Since the meetings were announced, Patch has been inundated with letters to the editor and blog posts arguing for and against the plan. Most of these arguments have centered around the Park District's proposed multipurpose beach shelter

The FAQ describes this shelter as a "gathering and departure point for park district camps and school group exploration of the diverse lakefront ecosystem."

From the FAQ:

Interpretive information provides passive education and the glass enclosed room will be available for community use and rentals during off-hours and seasons. (room capacity 35-50 people, restrooms, utility sink). This community space will help to educate and celebrate this Great Lake which is uniquely ours. Revenues generated through rentals and programming will help offset the cost of operation. 

Some residents, including many members of the Ravinia Neighbors Association (RNA), think this building is unnecessary and will harm the beach.

"It will impede the view looking north on the beach and no meaningful purpose has been stated for its presence," .

A loss of lakefront space and a "change to the natural feel that this spot isendowed with" were other reasons argued against the building by Annette Jacobson 

"This is not an appropriate use of the beach," she writes.

Michelle Holleman, on the other hand, called the park district's plan  

"Instead of giant porta potty trailer and ugly metal walls dividing the beach," she writed, "we’ll have functional facilities, a restored beach, and excellent multi-purpose space. Rosewood will be the crown jewel in our park system."

Peggy Laemle, who helped found RNA,  in her argument in favor of the Park District's plan. In her blog post, she details the scenarios in which the multi-purpose building and new facilities would be helpful to visitors both in summer and winter weather.

"How nice it would be to have it improved and to have restrooms instead of the porta-potties," writes  in the . "The beach is a hidden asset for Highland Park and I firmly believe that we should have full access in at least one location."

What do you think? Vote in Patch's poll and, if you're interested in getting into the conversation, click here to post a blog. 

Here's the full list of for and against pieces published on Patch:



The public meetings to discuss the project will be held May 2 at 7 p.m. at , 636 Ridge Road, or Sunday, May 6, 1:30 p.m. at  2821 Ridge Road. 

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Doug Purington May 01, 2012 at 02:53 PM
If not for the inclusion of the "interpretive center", the Park District's plan for Rosewood Beach has lots of merits which the RNA fully support. It has been confirmed by one of the Park Board members that this proposed edifice (unwanted and unnecessary at Rosewood) could very well be located elsewhere. If it was removed from their current proposal, the support by the residents of Highland Park would very likely be overwhelmingly in favor. Come on, Park District, let's have a plan that everyone in Highland Park can support and enjoy to its fullest!
Ricki Weiss May 01, 2012 at 03:08 PM
I find it interesting most if not all the against comments are from the Ravinia Neighbors Association while one of the opinions says it should be what ALL of Highland Park wants!
Redhead May 01, 2012 at 03:41 PM
We have been Highland Park residents for almost 40 years and have been listening to debate about Rosewood Beach for almost as long. I wish there would have been a beautiful beach when our sons were growing up. We have spent uncountable dollars on Port Clinton, Renaissance Place, a fitness center, swimming pools, medical building, etc. etc. etc., all of which have made Highland Park probably the most viable downtown area on the north shore. The only error I think occurred was the purchase of the movie theater - and that hasn't proved to be a true mistake yet. We're sick of listening to the continuing arguments. There's a wonderful plan in place that can only make our community better. So let's get on with it!!
Jack Straw May 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
I am from the west side of Highland Park and my family has had roots in H.P. for well over 100 years and I strongly disagree with an interpretive space. It is simply wrong to make the tax payers of Highland Park responsible and beholden basically because the grant writer found the words “interpretive space” had grant money behind it. The board must be copasetic of are wishes. We already have a wonderful water park and recreation center that a good many Highland parkers struggle to pay for.
Doug Purington May 01, 2012 at 03:43 PM
Just to be clear, the Ravinia Neighbors Association is representing the interests of ALL residents of Highland Park, not just in Ravinia. As the only swimming beach in Highland Park, Rosewood Beach and its successful renovation sooner than later is of immediate concern to everyone. Many, many of the signatures on the petitions (over 1,000) we've collected are from residents well outside the Ravinia area!
Ricki Weiss May 01, 2012 at 04:08 PM
I have lived in Highland Park for almost 50 years. Why has no thought gone to restore the other beaches Highland Park once had? Also I believe there has been too much debate on this already with the defeat of the referendum and the time to move forward is now and not make the Park District go back again to the drawing board once again. I support the plan as set NOW including the IC.
Doug Purington May 01, 2012 at 08:07 PM
We all want and deserve a beach in Highland Park (Rosewood) as nice as the one in Lake Forest and with the naturalistic designs and amenities proposed by the Park District. That said, in no way is an "interpretive center", or "beach shelter",or whatever one wants to call it, necessary to accomplish that. Again, the 7 or so alternatives that have been suggested for that building make so much more sense. The primary focus of the restoration of Rosewood Beach should be to provide a beautiful, comfortable, accessible, natural in concept venue for all families in Highland Park to be able to enjoy all year-round, something that we've been without for years and years. This proposed structure is in no way necessary for that premise to be realized! An "interpretive center", in of itself, is a wonderful concept...it just needs to be properly placed. According to one of the Park District board members, that placement can be elsewhere without sacrificing the matching grant monies. So, let's support the Park District's plans sans this unwanted and unneeded building (at Rosewood)!
Amy Lohmolder May 01, 2012 at 08:26 PM
This story would seem to misrepresent public sentiment. The link to my polling of 400+ is posted here -- http://highlandpark.patch.com/blog_posts/rosewood-beach
David Greenberg May 01, 2012 at 08:56 PM
We don't need to spend one dime on an Interpretative Center or shelter or whatever you call it at Rosewood Beach, or anywhere else for that matter. We already have more than enough facilities to own and operate in the Park District. The Rec Center that we spent $25 million on? The rates are apparently too high, so past members have been leaving for lower-cost alternatives such as LA Fitness. What's the Park District done to address that problem? The $220K/annual subsidy that we fund because rounds are down on the Sunset Valley Golf Course - what's been done to address that problem? Spending out of reserves... So we're supposed to buy into the idea that somehow, an expensive to build, expensive to maintain interpretative center will fund itself? Given some of the past history of the Park District's projects, I'm not willing to buy in. What's our total cost of ownership for the anticipated life span of this project? What's our costs for maintaining the items proposed by the Corps of Engineers for the next 50 years? What's the annual maintenance cost for the hundreds of tons of sand that will be needed to replenish the beach for the next 50 years? The cost of the annual sand surveys? The total cost of this project - including the initial work by the Corps is upwards of $5.9 million... of that, the grant we're talking about for the building provides a mere $400K - and that's because we're putting in $400K of our money...
Jack Straw May 02, 2012 at 01:12 AM
Personal, I feel a cool food truck would be a wonderful low impact way to go, and add a festive atmosphere.
Eve Tarm May 02, 2012 at 02:39 AM
I read Peggy’s blog post “Rosewood Beach Plans Look Wonderful.” I share her enthusiasm about long-waited improvements at Rosewood Beach. The Park District has worked hard to accommodate many residents’ suggestions into the Rosewood Beach plans. However, I can’t quite agree with some of Peggy’s statements at the end of the first section where she describes the Task Force convened by Park District, writing that, in her words, its "meetings and feedback confirmed the Park District’s belief that residents wanted a refurbished beach with multi-purpose space." As a member of the Task Force, I would like to clarify that the Park District made it clear from the beginning that the role of the task force was not to deliberate about what should be in the buildings that would be built at Rosewood Beach, but simply to help pick the architectural firm and advise about design and location. The Park District had prepared a specific wish list for the architects to follow that included the controversial interpretive center. I just don't think the impression should be left that there was unanimous agreement about the fact of there being an interpretive center at Rosewood.
David Greenberg May 02, 2012 at 05:19 AM
This sounds suspiciously similar to the previous Board's antics. Make a decision, hold some hearings, pay lip service to the Public comments, and do what they wanted to do, despite what the Public says. Isn't that part of the reason why we booted out the previous Board? Apparently the Board wasn't listening for the past several years when members of the Public turned out en masse to say "NO" to the multi-million dollar plan at Rosewood Beach, and to protest the pension/salary insanity that took place. If memory serves, the previous proposal for Rosewood was in the neighborhood of $3.8M. As this is $5.9M, someone clearly didn't get the message about fiscal restraint.
Steven N May 02, 2012 at 12:39 PM
Nice try on beach improvements, but once again the Park District is overreaching. There is no real need for an Interpretive Center at the beach. Restrooms, volleyball etc. all well and good but remove the center and I could support it.
Annette Jacobson May 03, 2012 at 02:01 AM
The various exciting new beach projects that the PD plan offers to improve this small beach definitely requires a large beach extension. The PD enumerates: a playground, sand volleyball area, new picnic area, public restrooms, showers, concessions area, improved ravine trail, and the required lifeguard areas. All these new units by themselves will require a huge total spacial increase.. Which is fine. With an additional space requirement of a 2000 sq.ft. building-- a building which has nothing to do with the purposes of this swimming and recreation beach -- added onto this crowded space -- it's also difficult to envision how the increased size of the traffic and the noise and exhaust of school buses barreling down into the beach would enhance the special and cheerful and benign environment of this neighborhood beach. An inerpretive center would spoil the liesurely recreational beach atmosphere. It does not belong in the informal atmosphere on a swimming beach. If it's absolutely needed for some reason, and the funds can be provided for its perennial upkeep -- without charging the taxpayers -- then there are seven other interesting sites that have been suggested.. In addition the proposal is to also include the "interpretive center" with multi-purpose use including a children's camp with school buses delivering and picking up each day. It would require more parking area to to accommodate these. As I pointed out before, it's difficult to
forest barbieri May 03, 2012 at 02:44 PM
I attended the meeting last night, unfortunately it was my soccer car pool night and I had to leave before the end of the Park District presentation and Q & A for an 8:00 pick up. What I saw I liked, the exception being the "Interpretive Center." I did hear the call for teaching and using the beach as an educational opportunity for the public and students. However, I am still 100% comfortable that my children could care less about an interpretive center and are MUCH more interested in an accessible, safe, fun beach experience. Just as they do not go to summer camp for extensive studies of mathematics and reading the classics, they do not go to the beach for an education. I would much rather see a structure with a thatched or similar roof, (Perhaps one like the ones at Sunset Park) freestanding, that would compliment a beach environment without walls or sides....no need for the impediment and maintenance of glass on this particular unobtrusive structure....containing some picnic tables. This would encourage picnics, birthday parties and enhance the overall use of the beach in a somewhat sun and rain protected environment. Interpretive would be the open air, beach and fun experience of having a beach that our community can be proud of and utilize. Hopefully that was expressed and the Park District can interpret the communities lack of interest in their interpretive center but support of the rest of the project.
Harris May 13, 2012 at 05:50 AM
I'm all in favor of Rosewood Beach improvements, however, I would be extremely saddened to lose the pier. While I recognize it is not in the greatest shape, I grew up walking out on that pier with my family, and its position away from the shore makes it a perfect place to view fireworks displays at neighboring communities. Any plans should include a renovated and modernized pier.
Paul Silverman July 08, 2012 at 06:08 PM
Doug, While that expresses your view, there is a significant majority of Highland Park parents who value the proposed educational component. Come on RNA, don't be obstructionist
David Greenberg July 08, 2012 at 06:38 PM
"A significant majority of Highland Park Parents". As a HP Parent myself, I don't ever recall being asked in any survey how I felt about the so-called educational component. When was this survey taken? How many were in the survey? What was the demographic of the sample? What questions were asked and how were they asked to limit bias? As an aside, I don't believe the RNA is being obstructionist at all. Rather, quite the opposite - the Park District is obstructing the long-term stated wishes of the Public to NOT have an IC/Beach House/whatever on Rosewood Beach.
Amy Lohmolder July 08, 2012 at 07:23 PM
The RNA is supporting most of the proposed improvements to Rosewood Beach, and has stated that these improvements should be implemented immediately. The Park District should not let the controversy surrounding the Interpretative Center be a bottleneck preventing the public from getting long the awaited restroom/ changing rooms, lifeguard station and all the other amenities for the swimming beach that are completely separate and could be implemented at anytime. Interestingly, per a 7/3 meeting, the Park District’s executive director confirmed that the PD has not yet even secured the grant for the Army Corp of Engineers work (which the RNA also supports).


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