SOUTH SHORE — New fencing temporarily blocked access to the South Shore Nature Sanctuary, but after the park’s advisory council convened, access will be restored.
The temporary fencing recently was installed as the Chicago Park District works to tear down a beach house near the sanctuary and the South Shore Cultural Center. The beach house, which housed restrooms, equipment and showers, will be demolished and replaced.
Demolition began a couple weeks ago, and access to the sanctuary was largely blocked when it began, according to Susannah Ribstein, South Shore Cultural Center Advisory Council member.
While the sanctuary wasn’t officially closed, the concrete path leading to its entrance was torn up and other access points were completely restricted. Because of the demolition fencing, the sanctuary could only be accessed by walking over a sand dune.
After the park advisory council complained, a Park District spokesman said crews would return to the site to move the fence back from the sanctuary entrance. The Park District also planned to post signed directing people around the fence and to the sanctuary.
The blocked sanctuary access appears to stem from a misunderstanding between the park district and the demolition contractor, Ribstein said.
Neighbors were not made aware of the project’s potential impact on the sanctuary, but that’s likely because the Park District never intended for the project to have any impact, she said.
“It was a shock to see the fencing go up, with no warning or accommodation for the people who use the sanctuary, and worrisome given all of the discussions about the future of that space lately,” Ribstein said.
It now appears the blockage “wasn’t their intention; there was some sort of miscommunication with the subcontractor,” she said.
The new beach house will include a large space for concessions, with the goal of opening for the 2020 beach season, Ribstein said.
“As far as I know, [the existing beach house] is just old,” she said of the reason for its demolition. “Personally, I think it was a nice building that just hadn’t been maintained.”
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