A design firm unveiled plans to refurbish Evanston’s shoreline at a community meeting Tuesday night.

But Stefanie Levine, the city’s project manager for the shoreline repairs, told residents at the Robert Crown Center meeting that “we don’t have any funding for steps past this preliminary work.”

Mark Wagstaff of the SmithGroup, said the plans were influenced by feedback from residents at two earlier open house meetings and surveys that generated over 1,000 responses.

Wagstaff said most people surveyed wanted more naturalization and enhancement of shoreline sites.

He said the designs would also improve views of the lake — which now in many places is hidden behind stone revetments.

Here are some of the proposed designs.

Sheridan Road at Calvary Cemetery

Sheridan Road would be reduced from four to two lanes to add more trees and wider pathways on both sides, making it easer for pedestrians and cyclists to share the path.

Some residents attending the meeting said they’d nearly been run over by cyclists on the existing narrow shoreline path and praised the widening concept.

Clark Park

Clark Park, just south of Main Street, would see its revetment redesigned to improve views of the water with an elevated boardwalk and rain garden added to sections of the park.

Lee Street Beach and Elliott Park

Lee Street Beach would get a new beach entrance near the restroom building, expanded sandy areas and would see the black flood control bags near the restroom building removed.

Dempster Street and Greenwood Beach

The plan recommends more green space for Greenwood-Dempster Beach area, including the installation of a grassy knoll, as well as improving the entry plaza to the beach.

Dog beach

Plans for the Dog Beach call for adding an offshore breakwater to combat erosion, more landscaping and improved pedestrian access.

Wagstaff said the next step is for SmithGroup to prepare engineering drawings for the design concepts so that cost estimates can be developed. They would also ascertain what regulatory issues would need to be addressed in implementing the plans. 

Then it will be up to the city to raise funds for the project, which might be sought as federal grants.

Levine said, “It’s going to be challenging” to find funding. “These shoreline projects unfortunately are very, very expensive.”

More details of the plans are on the city website.

Desiree Shannon relocated to Evanston in 2022 from Columbus, Ohio. She has a journalism degree from Otterbein College of Ohio. During her undergraduate studies, she completed an internship with the Washington...

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  1. All these beach plans appear fantastic, and I’m enthusiastic about witnessing their realization. It’s unfortunate that our city lacks the necessary funds and a concrete strategy to acquire them. It’s puzzling why they hold these public meetings and raise people’s expectations, knowing the slim likelihood of implementation. This pattern is common with park plans as well. It might be worthwhile for someone to investigate the amount the city has expended on consultants for unrealized projects. Good work if you can get it!

  2. Why would we pay for these studies if we are fully aware that we have no plans to put into motion?

    1. Hi Gary,
      You’ve heard of the term “shovel-ready projects”? Sometimes qualifying for a state or federal grant to fund a project is dependent on having plans for what to do already in place.
      Also, once plans are developed, the city will have at least ballpark price estimates for what it would cost to do the work — which means the City Council can make an informed decision about whether to devote city funds to the project — even if that involves only doing a small chunk of the work in a given year.
      Without having plans, there’s no basis for making informed funding decisions.
      The caution that no funding is in place is just a warning to residents to not expect any of the work to start happening immediately — and that there’s no guarantee about how much, if any, of the work eventually will be done.
      — Bill

      1. Bill is right. We need to be forward looking as a city. Better to dream big and achieve small than to not dream at all.

        Daniel Burnham said it better — “Make no little plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably will not themselves be realized.”

        That said, it is sad that our city – a shining jewel of opportunity – can’t afford these big plans. Instead, we back hiring private property tree police for $150k a year.

        It seems Evanston specializes in small plans. We have small thinking leaders. So very sad.

  3. Would like to see fishing piers or access, providing a wonder amenity for adults and families. This should also help with needed outlets and activities for teens. And the cost is low.
    Otherwise, a waste of one of the wonderful opportunities that Lake Michigan frontage provides.

  4. Clark Park was water when the shore was where Sheridan Road is now. It became land when piers were extended out into the water, trapping sand. The same is true for Burnham Shores Park and Elliott Park, and the homes along Edgemere Court. Let’s hope the lake doesn’t try to take the land back.

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