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Ravinia Neighbors Association Blog

Welcome to RNA’s Blog Page which features articles from Ravinia writers. Although articles are chosen in accordance with topics we feel are relevant to Ravinia and of possible interest to our readers, RNA does not necessarily endorse the opinions put forth in the blog posts. If you would like to comment on any articles put forth in the blogs, please use the comment box that follows each post.

Open Letter to the Park District Board of Highland Park Illinois

Saturday, June 30, 2012

From The Ravinia Neighbors Association Governing Board

Dear Park District of Highland Park Board Members,

As the PDHP Board approaches their vote regarding proposed Rosewood Beach improvements, the Ravinia Neighbors Association Board, which enthusiastically endorses proposed beach improvements -- other than the Interpretive Center -- would like to present its summary position.

WHY A FOUR -SEASON INTERPRETIVE CENTER SHOULD NOT BE BUILT AT ROSEWOOD BEACH

  1. FISCALLY IRRESPONSIBLE— Locating this building in a hostile environment close to the water's edge means high initial construction costs and expensive ongoing maintenance costs, including heating, air conditioning and continual maintenance of the exterior due to predictable water and wind damage. Army Corps of Engineers guidelines state: "Avoid placing buildings and other structures where flooding, storm waves and erosion are likely to damage them or shorten their useful lives." This is not a wise expenditure of taxpayer dollars, and the Park District has no solid figures on projected revenue from public usage of this building.

  2. IMPROPER LAND USAGE – Rosewood Beach is designated as our city's only swim beach. The addition of the Interpretive Center introduces competing needs that compromise access to and the use of swim facilities by the general public. The tranquility of this small beach will be compromised by noisy buses, higher traffic levels, increased parking problems, and resultant air pollution. As there are no sidewalks on the east side of Sheridan Road, usage of a beachfront building means difficult ingress and egress to and from Rosewood Beach. Increased traffic for competing use poses an increased risk of vehicle and pedestrian accidents.

  3. NEGATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT – Rosewood Beach's delicate environment of forested bluff, sandy beach and lakeshore provides natural habitat for birds, fish and other animals. The waterfront varies year to year. A large, four-season structure will displace wildlife, destroy native plants, and endanger birds (who may fly into the large glass windows).

  4. UNPROVEN NEED. – The Park District has not polled the community thoroughly and has no evidence of widespread community demand for a 1,960 square foot structure. Residents should call for a city-wide referendum which would include projections for construction and maintenance expenses, as well as specific revenue projections. At the very least, the City or Park District should commission an unbiased survey done by an objective third party. The RNA's tally of a total 125 emails sent to the Park District from the public between May 2012 to present (which is what was supplied via FOIA request) shows only 26 residents expressing support for the Interpretative Center. This number includes anyone expressing support for the Interpretive Center, any kind of educational facility, camp facility, multipurpose room, venue for parties or revenue source, or anyone who spoke favorably of having a beach similar to the Glencoe and Lake Forest beaches. (A full accounting and summary of all emails turned over to the RNA can be found in the RNA Report of Email Responses to PDHP Regarding Proposed Rosewood Beach Project 6-26-12.) In contrast, 734 petition citywide petition signatures call for a smaller development with only structures to support the swimming beach. An additional 209 signatures located on the RNA website also calls for a plan that would not overbuild Rosewood Beach.

  5. OTHER OPTIONS TO MEET SAME GOAL – The Park District wants a venue to teach children about nature and provide a space for birthday parties and other gatherings. These activities could be performed in a smaller, open-air, three-sided shelter, with far lower construction and maintenance costs, and no need for heating and air conditioning. Such a beach shelter would provide a truly unique and enjoyable atmosphere setting, one that is more appropriate for the beach and sets a far better example of appreciating and adapting to nature. In addition, the opportunity exists for the Park District to purchase beach rights on a property north of the proposed building location, expanding the area available for beach activities by an additional 182 feet.

CONCLUSION: Ravinia Neighbors Association members have been involved in this issue for over two years. We would have given up long ago if we'd seen a groundswell of community support for a four-season, large structure on Rosewood Beach, but it does not exist. We cannot understand the Park District zeal for a costly and environmentally problematic structure that serves little purpose.

The Ravinia Neighbors Association Governing Board.—June 26, 2012