Committee narrows Elmwood options
WHERE: Elmwood Avenue beachfront right of way
WHAT: Future options for the property
DECISION MAKERS: Wilmette village trustees
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:17PM
WILMETTE | The municipal services committee on Wednesday narrowed to three the options they’ll explore for the Elmwood Avenue beachfront property; vacate it, make it a passive nature preserve, or make it a Gillson Park-style controlled beach, possibly with park district cooperation.
Village Engineer Brigitte Mayerhofer must now judge each option in terms of potential capital and operating costs, public benefit, and each option’s effect on trees, wildlife, traffic and the surrounding neighborhood. Once she delivers her report, the committee will try to choose one option to recommend to the full village board.
Committee head Cameron Krueger said after the meeting that he hoped Mayerhofer’s work would be done by the end of the fall, so that trustees can make a final decision sometime this winter. He also said the issue shouldn’t have to stretch into next year’s municipal election season, or be left for a new board to deal with.
About 50 village residents attended Wednesday, and 20 of them spoke, largely in support of keeping the 80-foot right of way public in some fashion. Some wanted the village to maintain generally unfettered public access from both the beach and the street, but many backed some sort of street-side restriction, perhaps seasonal.
A few residents, some of whom lived in the small Michigan Avenue neighborhood near the property, opposed keeping the land open, saying that led to problems of traffic, vandalism and trespassing on private property.
Krueger and committee members Julie Wolf and Alan Swanson suggested vacating the property to neighboring homeowners on Michigan Avenue was the least likely to get their eventual nod. All three favored some sort of passive use for the land, preferably in a fashion that would restore native flora and possibly act as a migratory bird sanctuary.
It was the second time committee members looked at options for the Elmwood property, which has been the subject of intense public interest since early 2011 when its status as public land first became widely noticed.
An Aug. 7 committee meeting attracted more than two-dozen Wilmette residents, many of whom championed the use of what they called a unique piece of Wilmette lakefront.