At its October 15 meeting, the City Council unanimously approved a plan to re-route the North Beach Access Road after last summer’s bluff failure. Even though the approved option is more expensive, the Mayor and Aldermen firmly believe that the favored plan is the right thing to do and that many philanthropic residents in Lake Forest will contribute to the cause.
What Happened: This past May and June, Lake Forest and the region experienced the heaviest rains for these months on record, which caused flooding and ground oversaturation. On June 26, the City closed the Boardwalk at the beach due to significant movement on the bluff, determining that it was unsafe. The next day, a bluff slide occurred adjacent to the North Beach Access Road, removing an area approximately sixty feet wide from Forest Park’s table land down to the roadway below. Thankfully, no one was injured, but the road has been closed ever since.
Background: The City has been monitoring the bluff from the South Beach Access Road to the North Beach Access Road since 2016. In March of 2017, the City Council reviewed bluff stability reports and developed risk and watch areas. Inclinometers were installed along the bluff and boardwalk areas to measure movement on the bluff. After the June incidents, an ad hoc Bluff Advisory Committee was formed to work with the City and help determine the various options available for repairing or reconstructing the road. In September, the City Council was presented with 3 different repair options and timelines for each.
At its October 1 meeting, the City Council approved final consideration of two options, pursuant to competitive bidding and timelines. One option considered involved bluff re-grading, the loss of 30 feet of table land at Forest Park, the removal of all the vegetation on the bluff and transplanting 31 trees and shrubs -- at an estimated cost of $970,000.
The favored option involves a reconstruction of the North Beach Access Road so that is not directly adjacent to the bluff, reducing the impact of the project to the removal of all the vegetation on the bluff at an estimated cost of $1,985,000. Construction would take place as soon as weather permits in the spring of 2019, with equipment staged at the north end of the beach. The estimated construction completion date is mid July 2019. At Dialogue press time, over $200,000 has been privately raised to help cover the cost difference between the two options. Should you have an interest in donating to the North Beach Access Road Project, please contact your Aldermen (see page 16 for information).
Update: The City Council had great discussion at both its October 1 and October 15 meetings on the subject, reviewing Forest Park improvement history, bluff and ravine monitoring, the natural aspects of the landscape, restoration options, construction impacts, and beach operations. Mayor Rob Lansing stated “I solidly believe we will raise the majority of the difference...and we are doing what is in the long-term best interest of Lake Forest from many perspectives.”
The City wants your input!
Come to the “Big Boardwalk Think”
on Saturday, November 17, 10 a.m. at the Beach
Due to public safety issues, the Boardwalk along the bluff will be removed in late November. The City is working with engineers to come up with plans and costs for a new one to replace it in a new location. It will be ADA compliant, whereas the old Boardwalk was not. Please join us in the South Pavilion to brainstorm, discuss and sketch out different options and locations for a new Boardwalk.