ROGERS PARK — A rising Lake Michigan and powerful storms caused the loss of Howard Beach in 2019 — and forced the park’s playground to be temporarily removed.
The beachfront is still underwater and covered by rocks, but the playground will soon come back to Howard Beach Park, Ald. Maria Hadden (49th) announced Monday.
Park District crews will begin to reinstall the playground at Howard Beach Park, 7519 N. Eastlake Terrace, this week or next, Hadden said in an email newsletter to residents.
The playground equipment was removed in 2019, when city crews performed emergency shoreline stabilization work to fight erosion caused by rising water levels for Lake Michigan. As the city fortified the lakefront, erosion had already caused the loss of the land below the playground, making the facility dangerous and forcing its removal, Hadden said.
But with the Rogers Park lakefront now fortified and play areas again open after a coronavirus-caused lockdown, the playground equipment can make its return, Hadden said in an email update to constituents. The decision was made after studying wave patterns and from community feedback on the lakefront park, she said.
The playground will be repositioned to make it less vulnerable to future erosion, Park District spokesperson Irene Tostado said. A new bench and tree will be planted as well, and work is scheduled to be completed by the end of September.
The rising water wreaked havoc on lakefront neighborhoods on the North and South sides of the city. Lake levels reached at 30-year high in 2019. The combination of the high water and strong storms caused erosion issues in Rogers Park. In response, massive revetment walls were installed along the Rogers Park lakefront.
Despite the shoreline stabilization work, the last remaining beachfront at Howard and Rogers parks were lost to the lake in early 2020. Juneway Beach, the northernmost lakefront beach in the city, had previously been lost to the lake, its beachfront covered by a stone revetment wall.
But this year, Lake Michigan’s levels have receded. As of last week, Lake Michigan is down 18 inches from July 2020, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. That’s even the case after the lake rose 4 inches since June.
Still, Lake Michigan remains 16 inches above its long-term average for July, according to Army Corps’ data.
The receding lake has caused some lakefront beaches to reappear this summer, according to the Chicago Tribune.
Rogers Park’s three northernmost beaches — Juneway, Rogers and Howard beaches — remain under revetment walls and are officially off limits. But with their adjacent parks reopened, playground equipment can return to Howard.
“Our office is excited to see the playground equipment finally be reinstalled at Howard Beach!” Hadden said in her newsletter.
Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.
Listen to “It’s All Good: A Block Club Chicago Podcast” here: