Wilmette Park District commissioners are one step closer to a Langdon Beach access plan.
Although no vote was taken, the commissioners agreed they will likely only vote on a redesign plan for Langdon Beach if it is compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act on Monday, July 10. Shorthanded, the Park Board decided to table an official vote until its next meeting, Aug. 14, when all commissioners are present.
The decision to only vote on a design plan that ensures ADA compliance was initiated by the board’s newest commissioner, Patrick Lahey. Board President Kara Kosloskus suggested the board determine a definite timeline once a plan is approved.
“I think the spirit of our values as a district are that we want to be welcoming and inclusive to everyone,” Kosloskus said about favoring an ADA-compliant path.
Eroded by stormwater, Langdon Beach at Sheridan Road and Chestnut Avenue was closed indefinitely in 2019.
Following the commissioners preliminary discussion on the issue, Wilmette residents shared varying perspectives on the necessity for an ADA-compliant beach path and expressed concern for preserving the natural elements of the park.
Wilmette resident Elissa Morgante said that an ADA-compliant concrete path would take up too much space and is “environmentally and financially negligent.”
“I’m a huge proponent of diversity, equity and inclusion and I feel that at Langdon, it simply doesn’t make sense,” Morgante said.
Morgante said that there are legal exemptions that support Langdon becoming a non-ADA-compliant beach. She said Langdon features a relatively small beach and an ADA-accessible concrete path would take up a significant portion of the space on and around its bluff.
SmithGroup, the architectural company tasked with creating a solution for Langdon Beach access, proposed two solutions in 2020 for the redesign, which Wilmette residents were asked about in a recent survey.
Alan Golden, Wilmette resident, expressed frustration that there was not a “none of the above” option on the survey.
“Right now you’ve asked people to choose between what really amounts to the lesser of two evils and I don’t think that’s fair,” Golden said.
Multiple residents made comments emphasizing the need to preserve the bluff at the beach, which underwent severe damage because of the stormwater runoff..
Resident Dean Lindsay expanded more on the environmental impact of a concrete path by voicing support for the preservation of the natural elements of the park.
“Reset the project with clearer design objectives that protect trees and soil and bluff and fit Langdon’s nature, something beautiful that we can all be proud of,” Lindsay said.
Commissioners agreed that an ADA-compliant beach would narrow their options for voting on a redesign plan.
Kosloskus urged the board to err on the side of caution and inclusivity in terms of ADA compliance.
“If we’ve gone a year and we continue to run right up against the limit of if it is or isn’t compliant, I don’t feel good being in the business of trying to find the loophole,” Kosloskus said.
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.
Rosie Newmark is a 2023 Record intern and an incoming senior studying journalism and history at Northwestern University. Rosie has written for multiple campus publications in addition to the Hyde Park Herald and American Libraries Magazine.