Glencoe moves ahead on Dell Place improvements
Glencoe Police Officer Robert Dziekonski patrols Dell Place beach Friday morning. Soon, he'll probably have a staircase to reach the sand, instead off clambering over rip-rap. | Irv Leavitt~Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 27, 2012 6:20AM
GLENCOE — The Glencoe Village Board has passed all of the Street Ends Task Force’s recommendations for Dell Place.
Now, it’s only a matter of money; most of the recommendations cost some of that, so it’ll have to be approved before the village’s next budget year begins Feb. 1, 2013. And that’s not seen as a high hurdle.
The recommendations are as follows:
Keep the beach unfenced
Build a staircase over the rip-rap on the lower, treacherous 15 feet of the slope ($10,500)
Expand the hours of usage, from the current 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., to 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., from April 1 through Sept. 30
Install a bike rack ($550)
Reinforce the swale with light stone to arrest erosion ($10,000 to $20,000)
The only trustee who last week didn’t vote for the recommendations of the task force led by Village Trustee Joel Solomon was Village Trustee Joe Keefe, who had led a similar panel a few years ago that failed to deliver any recommendations.
The only significant reservation anyone else on the Board seemed to have was about the fence, and whether there would be adequate enforcement of village codes against underage drinking and trespassing on Dell beach without it.
That doubt was voiced on the Board only by Keefe and by Village President Scott Feldman.
“I do suspect we’ll be talking about that fence further down the road,” Feldman said, but adding that he recognized the task force had started out split over the fence, and through debate had concluded it shouldn’t be erected.
“I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt,” he said.
Less willing was Task Force member Jon Lipitz, who lives next door to the 66-foot beach.
“We’re increasing access without real safety,” he said, expressing concern over the fate of nighttime trespassers.
“I expect a body to wash up on my beach, or to be brought in to me as an ER doctor at Evanston Hospital,” the physician added.
Keefe remarked that if you want to manage and protect something, you fence it. “Why not a fence?” he asked.
One of the Task Force members, Glencoe Park Board President Max Retsky, took the podium to answer him.
“We don’t have a fence at Glencoe Beach, and that’s a lot easier to get to than this,” she said.
“If you fence it, the only people down there are the people you don’t want there, and it will be harder for the police to get there.”
Chief of Public Safety Michael Volling said that with the planned staircase, it would be much easier for his officers to get down to the beach.
Though tickets for after-hours use of Dell beach, and for other minor crimes, are still occasionally written, the village has already adopted a Task Force recommendation measure that cuts down on the number of people who can visit, illicitly or otherwise. Currently, no one can legally park on Dell Place or five other streets surrounding the beach, without permits that are controlled by residents of those streets.
Keefe gave a presentation that started with a plea that the village send the matter to the Plan Commission to develop a master plan that would make the ravine a natural amenity. He spoke of spending $75,000 to $700,000 on the project, seeking government grants to help pay.
He capped the presentation with a plea for a fenced amenity, and no swale or stairs until further study.
He quoted Charles Shabica, who he identified as a professor emeritis of earth science at Northeastern Illinois University.
He said that Shabica considered installing a staircase or upgrading a swale incorrectly as worse than not doing either at all, and for that reason, it had to go to another panel for study and hearings.
But Shabica was not there, and he had written no report.
Friday, Shabica said he had spoken to Keefe about Dell Place’s ravine, of which he is familiar.
He added that as head of Northfield’s Shabica & Associates/Sustainable Coastal Solutions, he had designed much more elaborate ravine restorations in Highland Park and Lake Bluff, for instance.
“If you do anything wrong, you make it worse,” he said Friday.
“I have a lot of respect for the folks in Glencoe, so I assume they are going to do it right.”
He said he knew Public Works Director Dave Mau, “and I think Dave has those capabilities” of guiding the relatively bare-bones project envisioned in Glencoe.
Several volunteers, represented by Laurie Morse on the Task Force, have discussed bringing a more significant restoration to Dell Place, but that was not dealt with during the nine meetings.