Elmwood beach to be passive use
Updated: December 4, 2012 12:12PM
The property informally known as Elmwood beach will remain open to the public as some form of passive nature preserve, now that Wilmette trustees have unanimously endorsed that recommendation from the board’s municipal services committee.
The committee’s work is far from done, however. Chairman Cameron Krueger said one of its next tasks is to find funding that minimizes village spending – grant programs and voluntary donations for example – to create the preserve area.
It also must decide how the property, which runs from the end of Elmwood Avenue down an 80-foot-wide strip of property to the Lake Michigan shore, will be regulated. Although the board will adopt interim regulations next month to help control trespass and vandalism problems in the area, those will have to be succeeded by comprehensive permanent regulations.
Wilmette will work with police and the Wilmette Park District to determine how to plug regulatory holes in village code by next summer, committee member Alan Swanson said. While the village is “equipped to be in the street business, we’re not equipped to be in the public recreation business,” she said.
Trustee Mike Basil, who isn’t a committee member, seconded the need for regulations.
Trustee Ted McKenna said he’d be happy if the village didn’t have to spend “a single dollar” on the project, even if there is $200,000 in next year’s municipal budget for capital project work.
Village resident Patrick Duffy, who has supported turning the land into some sort of public use, thanked the committee for its work and said there were many other financial sources available to tap.
Dan Ephraim, a resident of the small Michigan Avenue neighborhood near the property, opposed the decision, saying that it didn’t prohibit swimming on what he called the only remaining unfettered access beach.
Dennis Chookaszian, whose property borders the land to the north, has consistently lobbied Wilmette to vacate and split it between him and its neighbors to the immediate south in return for their voluntary payment. He did so again Tuesday, without success.
He said he and the Noyes family would be willing to keep the land as a passive preserve, and urged the board to put Elmwood’s future to a referendum question. After he insisted the land is worth $3 million to Wilmette, Krueger gently chastised him, reminding him “those are your figures.”~.