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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.

The Waves Roll in and the Bluffs Reside: The RNA and the Beach

Friday, September 30, 2011

By Lynne Jungman

Maybe nothing reflects the spirit of a person more than a large body of water, except perhaps the ever-changing heavens. Both can be calm and serene, playful and capricious, solemn and gray, thunderously angry and lashing out, sometimes dangerous and destructive: yes, just like us. So we have this wondrous natural gift called Lake Michigan with all its moods. We go to it for meditation, to get solace, to work out a pressing problem, or just for fun and frolic. And for that we don't need an imposing building or year-round edifice.

What do many, if not most, of our community want? A beautiful natural beach with uninhibited views, combed and clean sand, a beach-like house with changing rooms, showers, well-kept restrooms. Perhaps a concession stand and a patio with tables for picnics. Given all the lovely beaches from Lake Forest down to Evanston, there are many examples that incorporate the above, yet are respectful of their surround.

The Ravinia Neighbors Association (RNA) has been active in attending meetings of the task force for the Park District, as it sets about revisiting plans to erect an all-season building with an interpretive center space within. One of our members is on the task force and is attempting to appraise the other members of the views of many individuals in the community. This sentiment has been gleaned from a petition effort, stating the desire for a modest footprint on the beach. Many have signed on to this, including Highland Park north- and west-siders. It has been so rare, as to be negligible, that anyone has hurrahed for a year-round building. Rather, the view heard is "why do we need that?" or "who is going to the beach in the middle of winter; it seems dangerous."

It has been the hope of the RNA that it can get a large representation so as to persuade the Park District to honor the wishes of the people who live here and who pay with their taxes! The RNA has sometimes been labeled as, perhaps, not trouble-makers, but yet not representative of all Highland Park. The RNA has made every attempt to bring in other comments, for example collecting petitions in the central business district where all Highland Parkers go on occasion.

The word on the street (or to be more precise, some streets) is that the Park District has seemed more concerned with its goals regarding Rosewood Beach than as an impartial representative of all of Highland Park. As many remember, its referendum regarding this beach was previously rejected. It might be expected that it would approach this present attempt with an unbiased and open ear to the community voice. It has promised to do this once the architectural plan is complete.

There is good news coming from the Park District. It will hear from the Army Corps of Engineers sometime in November as to whether the Corps will agree to restoration projects on the beach-front itself, along with ravine restitution. The Park District and Rick Stumpf are to be congratulated on entering into this partnership. It will enhance the beach immeasurably -- if it happens.

The RNA does not try to be adversarial, rather to be a voice for the opinions of residents. It is true that most of its members are in the Ravinia neighborhood, hence its name. Perhaps other areas might wish to have a similar type of organization, and then a strong voice will emerge in the future before any and all governing bodies and boards.

Some residents have asked, "What do my dues go for?" Much goes to printing expenses keeping the community informed along with printing this newsletter. The RNA is made up of volunteers from various backgrounds who in part are a watchdog group, attending city council meetings, park board meetings and other civic groups. We interface with and support our business community. It also plans fun like the recent Ravinia Block Bash and last year's garden walk. And we welcome any and all to our board meetings, which take place every other month. The RNA is transparent!