Plans to replace a defunct canoe launch at the Ladd Arboretum in Evanston are scheduled to advance at Monday night’s Evanston City Council meeting.

The Evanston Environmental Association is prepared to sign a memorandum of understanding with the city pledging to raise $1.5 million toward construction of a new accessible launch adjacent to the existing public parking lot at the arboretum.

The parking lot is located at the southwest corner of McCormick Boulevard and Bridge Street.

In a memo to council members, City Engineer Lara Biggs says the existing wooden canoe launch and stairs, adjacent to the Ecology Center on the north side of Bridge Street, were “built many years ago and became unusable due to erosion and decay.”

Even when the launch was in good condition, Biggs adds, “it was difficult to traverse and was not ADA-compliant.”

In 2020 GZA GeoEnvironmental, Inc., conducted a $30,000 feasibility study funded by the EEA and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources Coastal Management program that recommended the new location for the canoe launch.

In addition to agreeing to the MOU, the Council Monday is scheduled to approve a $125,498 contract with Christopher B. Burke Engineering Ltd. of Evanston for engineering services on the project — with the cost to be split equally between the city and the EEA.

Under the agreement with the environmental group, the city will be responsible for the cost of reconstructing the parking lot adjacent to the planned canoe launch — a project that Biggs says is needed anyway, due to the age and deterioration of the lot. That work was estimated in 2020 to cost just under $500,000.

The Skokie Park District’s Dammrich Rowing Center, located just north of Oakton Street on the North Shore Channel. (Google Maps image)

The planned canoe launch would be the only one on the North Shore Channel in the City of Evanston, although there is one just outside the city limits at the Dammrich Rowing Center just north of Oakton Street in the Village of Skokie.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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