Glencoe Beach staircase damaged, closed
Workers stopped after they began removing loose stones from the Glencoe Beach stairs, as they worried the job was bigger than they expected. | Irv Leavitt ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 2, 2012 8:46AM
Just in time for the beach season, there’s a big problem getting down to the Glencoe beach.
The massive stone staircase that spans the steep lower part of the bluff is damaged and closed, as a structural engineer is slated to begin the task of finding out just what’s wrong with it.
And there is something wrong with it — something that’s apparently too much for Highland Park’s Manfredini Landscaping & Design to risk repairing, Glencoe Park District executive director Don Van Arsdale said May 15.
The firm had been hired to fix some cracks in the side of the staircase, near the top, for $3,200, but quit after removing stones from the hidden east side.
Workers uncovered a network of steel support rods that they were unsure was completely intact or not.
The rebar looks solid, but it’s hard to tell where it’s supposed to extend: the district has no architectural plans for the staircase, which was constructed by the Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression, Van Arsdale said.
“I fear, if we don’t address it, it could cause a major failure,” he told the park district board May 15. “It may be fairly isolated, or it may be a major problem.”
The staircase leads down from alongside the switchback road that starts at the top of the bluff at the end of Hazel Avenue and runs down to the sand. For now, people can still get down to the beach by continuing down that road as it doubles back.
For at least two half-days, however, that route won’t be available, when the bottom quarter or so of the road will be grinded down and repaved.
The district made a last-minute deal with the Village of Glencoe, which is rehabbing another, village-owned portion of the road, that connects with the town water plant. The deal allows the park district to get its own deteriorated stretch of road replaced for $4,500 instead of much more. Van Arsdale said the village is almost certainly going to get the road work done this week, before the temporary Memorial Day weekend opening of the beach, or right after the holiday, when it will again have no lifeguards until June 2.
Van Arsdale said little or no maintenance has been done on the staircase over its 80-plus years, “other than tuckpointing.” It looks like those days are over.
“It’s safe to say this will have a fairly significant impact on the beach, and possibly on the 4th of July” celebration, he said.