ROGERS PARK — Can one of the neighborhood’s last beaches be saved?
Work to stabilize the Far North Side’s shoreline moved to Howard Beach on Dec. 2, where workers will construct a rock wall while trying to preserve at least some of the remaining beach area at the park’s south end.
After early-fall storms and nearly record-high Lake Michigan levels wreaked havoc on Rogers Park’s shoreline, city officials ordered emergency anti-erosion efforts at three neighborhood beaches. Those efforts include a multi-million project to erect massive revetment walls made of boulders that seek to insulate the shoreline against erosion.
Work to fortify the lakefront began Nov. 18 at Juneway Beach, where rocks now cover what once was beach space eroded by the lake.
The Howard Beach work is slated to last about 4-to-5 weeks, according to the the Chicago Department of Transportation, or CDOT. The beach’s revetment wall will be built along the its northern end and not impact the existing beach space to the south. A similar effort will be made at Rogers Beach, where work is scheduled to start in late December or early January.
Lake Michigan has been rising since 2013, swallowing up beaches throughout Chicago. Juneway Beach has disappeared under the rising lake, but Howard and Rogers beaches still have some remaining lakefront beach space that the city is seeking to preserve, according to CDOT.
At each of the three beaches, construction fencing will remain up until the spring, keeping much of the lakefront closed to the public. The Chicago Park District will work to replace topsoil and re-sod the parks, as well as plant new trees at the work sites.
Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) held a community meeting on the shoreline work last week, where residents could learn about the work and ask questions of city officials.
Hadden’s office, along with CDOT and the park district are “committed to having community voice help shape the future of our shoreline as we work towards permanent and comprehensive plans over the next several years,” Leslie Perkins, chief of staff for Hadden, said in a statement.
Jenny Learner’s Rogers Park lakefront condo sits just south of Juneway Beach, with her terrace overlooking the beach. The location has given her a front-row seat to the shoreline fortification effort, which she hopes will be enough to help save her building and the surrounding land.
“It’s a vast improvement,” Learner said of the fortification work. “I’ve literally had the waves hitting my windows. So for me, I’m relieved.”
The work at times caused her home to shake and even contributed to the cracking of some crown molding, Learner said. But it was worth it so that her lakefront home and nearby public lands can be saved, she said.
“It was intense, but who cares?” Learner said. “It’s necessary work.”
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.