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Rosewood Task Force Signs Off on Interpretive Center

After touring Rosewood Beach on Monday, the group voted 6-1 to keep the controversial building in the redesign plan.

The Rosewood Beach Task Force voted 6-1 to keep the in the Rosewood redesign proposal after meeting on the beach Monday.

"Getting out there and getting a feel for the size made quite the impact," said Park District Board member , who accompanied the task force. "It was an accurate way to see what was going to be there."

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According to the Highland Park News, stakes and pillars were set up to mark the proposed location and size of the interpretive center. Weisskopf told Patch that the setup revealed that the center would not cut into the bluff,  

“The big issue here is the big reveal that you see when you drive down here and walk down here, and would that be damaged by the location of this building?" Task Force chairman David Fairman told the Highland Park News. "From what I saw, I don’t think it’s significantly damaged.”

Eve Tarm, the lone task force member who voted against the interpretive center, told Patch that she was not swayed by Monday's tour. She thinks the  1,960 square foot building -- 1,000 for an educational room and 960 for restrooms and storage -- is large and unnecessary.

"What does the beach gain by having that building there?" Tarm said. " could be a much better location."

The beach tour comes after where the task force heard residents opinion and concerns about the Rosewood Beach proposal. According to Park District Executive Director Liza McElroy, a majority of residents favor the proposal, with one caveat: the interpretive center, also known as the beach house.

" don't think it belongs on the beach," McElroy said.

Those people include and , who expressed excitement at the park district's plan even if the interpretive center ends up getting built.

"I prefer the beach house, small structure or [interpretive center] to be placed other than on the beach," Barbieri wrote on Patch. "However, I leave it in the good and capable hands of Dave Fairman's task force and the elected Park Board to bring it to a welcomed final decision that will enhance our community regardless of their decision." 

According to Margaret Gienger, the Park District's Communications and Marketing Director, the interpretive center's main purpose will be to offer educational opportunities to residents. Park District staff will lead active learning activities, and school groups will have the option to use the space as well.

"If you're going to learn about beach and ravine restoration, what better place to do that than right at the beach and on the ravines," Gienger said.

The Rosewood Beach proposal also includes three other buildings: a concession stand, a bathroom and a guardhouse. Part of Tarm's opposition to the interpretive center stems from the belief that these three buildings make a fourth unnecessary and obstrusive.

"Everything that has to do with any aspect of using this beach has been moved to three other buildings," Tarm said. "What does the beach gain by having that building there?"

Task force member Steve Sider, who voted in favor of keeping the interpretive center, believes the building will enhance the Rosewood redesign. He called Tarm's argument that the building would obstruct the view "very weak." The building would be beneficial, Sider said, as it would offer protection from the elements.

"It would be very disappointing for the community if we didn't have that additional shelter for whatever use you want to have it for," Sider said. "It's by far the best solution."

The task force meets again on June 4 to continue discussing the proposal. The group will make its final recommendation to the Park Board on June 21.

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Cindy Wolfson May 25, 2012 at 01:00 PM
I encourage the park district to think expansively when considering uses for the new interpretive center. What activities would be enhanced with such a spectacular, peaceful view of the lake? Yoga and art classes immediately come to mind.
Ed Brill May 25, 2012 at 01:05 PM
From the Highland Park News story: "the proposed interpretive center did not touch the existing usable beach space. The proposed location sits on an elevated, vegetated patch of land at the base of the bluff, north of the existing parking lot." So much for the objection that the interpretive center was cutting into beach space.
Steven N May 25, 2012 at 01:13 PM
While environmental concerns are real so too are those of expense and need.
Doug Purington May 25, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Nevermind that the Task Force looked at a footprint that had been delineated at 1,000 sq ft rather than the true footprint of 1,960 sq ft for the entire building to include the heating and cooling equipment and the extra bathrooms! The Park District marches on to the beat of its on drum ignoring the alternative sites for the IC which are far better options to accomplish their headstrong goals.
Doug Purington May 25, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Just to be clear on the misrepresentation by the Park District and the Task Force of the IC's footprint, the following is what appeared in the Highland Park News this week: "With 10- and 12-foot-tall pillars in place, creating a virtual footprint 50 feet long and 20 feet deep, the proposed interpretive center did not touch the existing usable beach space. The proposed location sits on an elevated, vegetated patch of land at the base of the bluff, north of the existing parking lot." When the actual footprint of the IC is essentially double their "virtual" footprint, of course the IC would be seen in a different light by the Task Force than what would really be seen if it were to indeed be placed at Rosewood. And how could a vote be taken at this juncture when the alternative sites haven't even been investigated? It just goes to show that minds are made up despite so much negative feedback from residents all over Highland Park. Well, it's by no means a slam-dunk and the final results still remain to be seen.
David Greenberg May 25, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Yoga, and art classes can both be done sans a building. I seem to recall some TV programs where people are doing yoga at the beach with just a mat. Or painting with just an easel, canvas, and some paint - artists have been doing that for millenia.
Peter Lucas May 25, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Minds made up in advance has been the park district's MO for a lomg, lomg time.
David Greenberg May 25, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Fairman - "From what I saw, I don’t think it’s significantly damaged.” But that means it's damaged nevertheless. "Significantly" is one of those nebulous terms used by weathermen so they don't get sued over a forecast. Also, Mr. Fairman says "HE" feels a particular way - many in the community would beg to differ, Sir. However we still have yet to see how the Park Board will vote on the Task Force's recommendations. And depending on how that goes and whether or not the Board got the message in the past election how the community feels about spending taxpayer funds, we can still vote at the next election to reinforce those feelings. You don't teach kids or adults how to preserve a Beach and minimize the impact to it by building a HOUSE on the beach (and 1950 sq ft is as big, or bigger than some houses in Highland Park) - building the structure and then teaching a contrarian lesson sends the wrong message. We don't need an interpretative center, more programs, or more facilities for the Park District to operate, maintain, and asses us taxes for. We do need fiscal restraint and taxpayer relief.
Ed Brill May 25, 2012 at 06:19 PM
A vote could be taken because this task force was only chartered to think about Rosewood Beach. The PDHP board is the place to ask for alternate site consideration.
Carl Lambrecht May 29, 2012 at 12:52 PM
There is a empty building but for the part occupied by a park district employee at Ravinia beach. If the upper lot drive way was used for parking. It would have plenty of parking. As usual legal corruption is in action again in the park district. Like all public bodies they like to spend wastefully.
Jeff Miller June 02, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Yes, I am in favor of D113 improvements. No relation at all, dude.
Jeff Miller June 02, 2012 at 11:08 PM
You are so single-minded, Doug. Do you spend time only whining about the PD board? Teaching is what can be done with the IC. There is plenty of room for the beach WE all want. I know you are no longer a student, but all children and many adults are life-long learners who can benefit from scientific research, viewing and other programs of the IC while residents use the beautiful new space. This is not a waste of taxpayers money. To those of you in HP without kids, many of you never want to spend the money because it doesn't benefit YOU. Think big picture, people.
Jeff Miller June 02, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Don't blame the brand new board for the lack of insight for the old board. This isn't Kansas anymore, Toto.
David Greenberg June 03, 2012 at 05:02 AM
I have two kids, and I think it's a waste of taxpayers money. I'm a life-long learner, enjoy scientific research, and I'm perfectly fine with contemplating the multiverse while simply sitting on the sand, or even a boulder at the beach. We don't need a house at the beach.

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