Winnetka, News

Plan to overhaul Centennial-Elder beaches seeks state approval; professional video details concepts

Considered a dream project for the Winnetka Park District, the combination of Elder Lane and Centennial parks and beaches now has a formal plan — complete with virtual-reality video.

The Winnetka Park District released the materials online on Friday, Oct. 22, and in a mass email on Thursday, Oct. 28.

“The plan fulfills a major objective of the 2030 Lakefront Master Plan — the unification of Elder and Centennial parks and beaches,” the email reads.

The proposal, according to the email from the district, must receive proper authorization and permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and other agencies.

The narrated video, which was produced by Brooklyn Digital Foundry, provides an overview of the plan using computer-generated imaging and animation.

A still from the informational video shows the proposed boardwalk and swimming beach.

According to district documents, the development plan calls for 1,000 feet of shoreline contained on either side by a 285-foot, stone-and-steel breakwater that curls inward as it progresses into the water.

The breakwaters will be the guardians of the bluff, protecting it from erosion, according to the video. They will be supported in their efforts by two 200-foot planting boxes near their origin points on the beach.

The beachfront is split in two by a 225-foot pier punctuated with a T-shaped breakwater, which separates two recreation areas: a larger beach for swimming and one for nonmotorized watercraft, such as kayaks and paddleboards.

The district is planning an 800-foot, elevated boardwalk that borders the length of the beach and crosses a beachhouse slated for upgrades, as well. An all-access ramp and access road — for emergencies and craft launch —also reach the beach, according to the designs.

“Making the new park a source of safe enjoyment for users of all ages is paramount to the project,” the narrator says in the video. “Together, these thoughtfully designed elements make the new park a richer experience for all who visit.”

A video capture shows the planned path down to the swimming beach.

The reimagined beachfront will do away with the dog beach currently active at Centennial. Citing a lack of communication, users of the dog beach complained to the district’s Park Board, which has formed a committee to explore other dog recreation opportunities on and off the water.

The impetus for the park district’s prized project was a multimillion-dollar land-swap agreement that gave the district a piece of property — 261 Sheridan Road — that split Centennial and Elder parks. In return, the district handed over a similarly sized parcel on the southern-most end of Centennial Park.

The deal required a major concession by the property owner of 261 Sheridan, which was worth more than double the district’s property — $6.2 million vs. $3 million.

According to the district, “public comments in support of the plan,” can be made online.

The next regular meeting of the Park Board of Commissioners is set for Nov. 18.


The Record is a nonprofit, nonpartisan community newsroom that relies on reader support to fuel its independent local journalism.

Subscribe to The Record to fund responsible news coverage for your community.

Already a subscriber? You can make a tax-deductible donation at any time.

joe coughlin
Joe Coughlin

Joe Coughlin is a co-founder and the editor in chief of The Record. He leads investigative reporting and reports on anything else needed. Joe has been recognized for his investigative reporting and sports reporting, feature writing and photojournalism. Follow Joe on Twitter @joec2319

Related Stories