The Wilmette Park Board is working to protect Langdon Beach, but its fate is up to Mother Nature.
Park commissioners received an update on plans to fortify the beach, which has been closed since 2019, during their first Committee of the Whole meeting Monday, June 27.
The concept includes a revetment topped with a pedestrian overlook, plus stairs and an access ramp down to the shoreline. If all goes as planned, the revetment work will go out to bid in July and construction could begin in the fall and finish next summer.
That does not mean, however, the beach will be open to the public.
“I’d say if the trend (of receding water levels) continues from what we see currently, once the work is complete, there will be good access down the bluff in addition to stabilization,” said Steve Wilson, the district’s executive director. “But we can’t guarantee there is going to be a beach there next summer. The water trend is going down, not up, so it’s reasonable to think, but there is no guarantee that the beach will always be there.”
Langdon Beach, which is connected to Langdon Park at Sheridan Road and Chestnut Avenue, opened to the public in 2007, but over time, Lake Michigan’s rising water levels and local stormwater eroded the beach and bluff at the site. In 2018, the park district created a 10-foot-wide path down the dune in order to keep the beach open; however, erosion continued and shrank the path down to 3 feet.
Access to the beach was restricted indefinitely in 2019.
Since, the park district has worked on a plan to protect the bluff and, if possible, restore beach access. Water levels, though, surged to record highs in 2020 before beginning to recede in 2021. The recession has continued into 2022, Wilson said.
In January, the Park Board reviewed three concepts to fortify the beachfront and requested cost estimates and more information on a combination of the concepts, including an overlook, stairway and accessibility ramp.
The revetment is the priority, Wilson said, and the pedestrian components may be bid separately.
“The intent is to start work so we can ensure the longevity or the park and bluff and stability of the beach for the future,” he said.
The Langdon Shoreline project was one of 11 projects on the June 27 agenda for the Committee of the Whole, the new committee format of the Park Board that was agreed upon in alignment with Commissioner Mike Murdock’s re-election as board president.
The committee replaces a seven-committee structure and will meet at least monthly and review a variety of projects and issues.
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