Proposals and public input for the Morgan Shoal/45th-51st Street shoreline area.

Park News home. Promontory Point home. Back to Shoreline Protection Project "other sections" south side. Lakefront Protection Ordinance. Burnham Park Framework Plan. See Harold Washington Council ideas for west of LSD.

The four concept views
from November 19 focus group meeting and a side-by-side from the October 22 public meeting
The two concept views and view-from-the-Point overlays from the January 21 public meeting
The final plan presented March 23, 2004 (from there to views/drawings)
Earlier concept and engineering renderings- the basis for the plans that have emerged for this section

Residents interested in viewing the latest plan or offering comments on the project can go to the project website at (Latest was not up as of March 8.) Or contact Project Manager Vasile Jurca.

Public meetings were held October 28, and December 15 2014, and February 26, 2015. See below.
CPD and partners JJR are coming with a detailed new plan. Please join the Chicago Park District along with CDOT for a public meeting regarding improvements for Burnham Park between 45th Street and 51st Street.
February 26, Thursday, 6:30 pm. 3rd public meeting on the Morgan Shoal shoreline protection and park improvement plan 47th-52nd.
Chicago Park District, CDOT and Army Corps of Engineers. Kennicott Park fieldhouse, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave.



This is a key section that will have to be treated differently. It includes the famous (or infamous) Morgan Shoal, where the bedrock of Silurian (Niobrara/Niagara) dolomite bedrock comes up to the surface, and of "pebble beach", a major launch point for deep water swimmers. Yet the shore comes close the Drive in the south part. Sheet pile cannot be driven because the bedrock is too close to the surface. Here is an opportunity to greatly expand parkland into the lake, creating new natural and use opportunities and fulfilling a part of the Burnham Park.
A focus that became important from at least 2012 was the future and role of an important shipwreck from early in the 20th century- the Silver Spray excursion boat- how it can be kept, perhaps kept / made an accessible attraction in context of falling and rising lake levels.

Alderman Toni Preckwinkle formed a steering committee, which was open to interested persons and stakeholders. This committee's meetings alternated with public meetings between October and March, 2004.

Tentative Project Schedule:

1st Focus Design Gp Mtg. Aug. 27, 2nd Sept. 24 (options and framework plan), public mtg. October22, 3rd Focus Group mtg Nov. 19, 2nd public mtg. Jan 21 (refined design alternatives), 3rd Design Group/public mtg. March 2, 3rd public meeting March 23. Cost c. $42 million.

Second Public Meeting, January 21, 2004.


Purpose was to gather any problems and preferences by the general public and narrow winnowed design choices to one--either "Morgan Sands" paralleling the shore and "Morgan Peninsula" perpendicular to the shore. (In a straw poll at the end of the meeting, equal numbers supported Sands and Peninsula with an equal number not voting. One suspects there will be blending of the two, the only suspense being whether the designers take a breath and go with the more daring and intrusive peninsular concept.)

Goals of the project were to curb flooding and erosion of Lake Shore Drive and the Park, improve access to the park and shore, and increase usable parkland.

Consultant team activities since the previous public meeting

Engineering design considerations

Program elements of design (proceeding from the lake to Lake Shore Drive) (little difference in areas devoted to each)

About the two alternatives:

Morgan Peninsula

Gives more nod to Burnham Plan, takes full advantage of the shallowness of the shoal. Pebble beach a little smaller. Also sections of armored land --less soft edge, larger stone blocks, though also no vertical edges

Sticks out much more into the lake, with different effect on views from north and south. Only here and there would trees obscure even the middle elevations of downtown buildings from the Point


A straw vote revealed no overwhelming preference. People to whom the drawings were shown tend to think it's too much and expensive for what will be a relatively inaccessible and isolated, maybe unsafe area and think that at the least the best choice is Peninsula truncated at the start of the peninsula/islands (including less fussy wetlands).

Next Focus Group March 2, next Public Meeting March 23.


Herald take of January 21 meeting, in the January 28 issue. By Mike Stevens
(Note: this editor saw an approximately even 3-way division. In comments after the meeting, presenters joked that there was no way there was going to be a choice by that meeting!)

Beach plan early favorite for 50th Street lakefront

An informal vote last week would tuck a big sandy beach in between 45th and 51st Streets on the lakefront instead of a peninsula, an option that is less likely to spoil views of downtown from Promontory Point.

The non-binding vote came at a crowded public hearing where city officials presented the two final designs for the city's $42 million project to protect the lakefront between 45th and 51st Streets.

"All of the sand beaches are crowded now. We need more beach and less peninsula," said one resident from amongst the nearly 40 residents gathered at the 47th Street Coop Market for the meeting. "I'm a Morgan Sands guy," added Michael Amasay.

The apparent front-runner features a long open beach and boardwalk paths meandering through dunes and wetlands. Despite a difference in shape, city consultant Brad Winick said the two designs share roughly the same amount of acreage, feature similar amenities--a pebble beach, sandy beach and wetlands--and cost about the same. "The truth is, through the process the two options have gotten a lot closer," said Winick.

Peninsula backers pointed to the beauty of the slender land mass and the unique experience of standing at the tip of the peninsula. "It would just be a really exceptional space," said city consultant Joanne Bauer. The peninsula features a smaller sandy beach that extends southward curving along the side of the peninsula. Wetlands sit in the middle of the peninsula and a pebble beach rests on the southern side of the peninsula.

Concerns that either design would block views of downtown from Promontory Point seem to have been calmed by city officials armed with illustrations. The simulated photographs show clear views of the downtown skyline with yhe14 foot tall peninsula lying benignly below (see images....).

Landscaping designs are not complete, but city officials said most plantings will be low lying shrubs and prairie grass. With water depths of two to four feet, planners predict they can affordably expand current park space by building out hundreds of feet into Lake Michigan. "We knew there were opportunities to add new park land because of Morgan Shoal, because of the low bedrock," The peninsula design would extend the park 600 feet farther into Lake Michigan than the beach design, which itself adds hundreds of feet of new park.

Some residents voiced concerns that rocks meant to protect shoreline from erosion would be ugly. "In the areas with shallow water [like Morgan Shoal], we can use much smaller stones," said Mark Wagstaff reassuringly. But, he conceded, "Exactly where they'll be and proportions we don't know yet."

Others asked how extending land out into the lake will impact birds and fish. Project Manager Ken Bagstad said wetlands in both designs would replace destroyed habitat, though he added it's a bit too early to tell.

Both designs have traditional lawns, paths and setting focused around high traffic areas, particularly the pedestrian [over]passes at 47th and 51st Streets/

The next and final design presentation is scheduled for Tue., Mar. 23. construction is set to begin in the fall of 2004.


By the time of the November 19 2004? Focus Group meeting, the crux of decisions to be made became to build a park-- either paralleling or running at right angles to the shore--that:

Note: Both the Harold Washington Park Council and the HPKCC Board of Directors voted to oppose a parking lot at the north end of HW Park and so informed the design team. However, as the project manager points out, the parking lot was a concept suggestion that would not be covered in the scope of the Shoreline Protection Project.

There was also jockeying over meeting location (HP vs NKO), representing in part concerns to get to meetings numbers friendly to particular needs, viewpoints, and neighbors?

See more below and in the November 26 article.

Focus Design Group Preliminary Recommendations (presented at first public meeting)

The first in a series of public meetings, Wednesday, October 22, Kennicott Park fieldhouse, saw presentation and open discussion of four concepts (no. 2 being very different from what was shown at the second Focus Group meeting). These were four strong concepts into which residents could bite their teeth and pick and choose. The choices do boil down to active or pastoral modes and listening to closest vs farther neighbors. See insightful coverage October 29. The next Focus Group meeting will be held November 19 and the next public meeting January 21, 2004. Renderings (conceptual basis for plans) from first meetings.

The four plans were:



To views of the latest concepts

The third Focus Group meeting was held November 19. The team first showed what is taken into account when one builds a beach or a ridge-and-swale habitat and the kinds of wave energy must be countered and from what direction in the Morgan Shoal section. They stressed that beaches, habitat and planting take a while to establish. A complete shore to lake progression would include five habitat zones starting with upland and progressing through shrub, wet meadow, emergent, to aquatic. Shore protection structures can include submerged breakwaters, revetments where the level of water and shore differ significantly, and island series (secured underneath by stone and gravel linings).

The team reviewed the "Program elements" included in varying degree in each of the four plans reviewed at the public meeting: shore and beach, wetland, dune and prairie, and lawn-traditional parkland.

They summarized comments on the four plans at the public meeting and told how they morphed the plans into two basic plans with two variants each:

The active-passive (fragile) mix, the crux of disagreements, would vary between the concepts:

The concept of a cove is completely gone, and the northeast facing beaches would be protected by a submerged breakwater but still have more wave action and views (as asked) than in former plans. The heavily used beach was expected to be at the north end (which, it was said, is rather remote from access) and some at the south, which could be pebble as now or sand or, as asked, a mix of slabs, pebbles and sands. The sands in the middle were expected to be more vegetated dunes. These plans would make more or less use of boardwalks. The shore in all cases will have as soft an edge as possible.

A dropoff is included from and returning to the northbound LSD lanes close to the 51st overpass (expected to be replaced with ADA), in turn close to proposed parking for 60 cars west of the Drive. (CDOT would have to check out the dropoff configuration.) There would be problems accessing the active north end even with a new overpass at 47th. There was much discussion between the ADA rep and the team over what was required or might be waived.

The main caveats were:

Visit views of the new plans.


A second Focus Group meeting was held September 24. Four large alternative concept drawings were presented, all of which were both praised and strongly criticized. Three retained pebble beach (with some changes), all had moderate to extensive beaches (no longer south-facing) and dunes, three had both shallow and deep water swimming, and three to greater or lesser extent still had enclosed coves that were criticized as pollution traps. The beaches and dunes were criticized as likely to blow sand on the drive and beyond. Extensive edge treatment with rubble stone mounds was also criticized as obtrusive and likely to sieve trash. Short stretches edge-treated with limestone blocks on the south was not ruled out. See stories below.

The 4 concepts were called 1) 49th Street Beach, 2) South Side Prairie, 3) Morgan Dunes, and 4) Morgan Island. (The last has a large land bulge in the center attached by a bridge to an island that would give spectacular views, if viable.)


The initial Focus Group meeting

Steering Committee participants and agency/professional contractor team members discussed current conditions, special characteristics and advantages of the area, the vision set forth in the Burnham Park Framework Planning process 1999-2001 (which they set forth both as a starting concept and in itself to re reaffirmed or changed), and what participants would like changed or have stay in the current shore-park.

A quandary seemed to be brewing between on the one hand desire to expand the park out into the lake to make overlook, natural, trail, and perhaps recreational space and opportunity including a new sand beach, fishing pier and cove, removed from the noisy Drive, and on the other hand the desire to hold onto key feature "Pebble Beach" (a "non-negotiable")- located quite close to the Drive and also desire to avoid creating a pollution trap like 63rd Street Beach.

Pebble beach was extolled as offering a variety of swim and play features and opportunities for kids through experienced adult swimmers (who can quickly get out to deep water). On the other hand it has litter problems, limited likelihood of serving beyond a modest number of mostly-local people, and keeping it in situ limits park extension unless poor water circulation is to be risked. The latter problem was also shared by the Framework Plan's bulging land and piers around a cove and (south-facing??!) small beach.

Because of access, parking, and space constraints, members warned, this stretch is unlikely to become a destination area and should not be made such or parking for such provided. Recreation, structures, etc. should be few and modest and the stress should be on natural areas (including for water wildlife) and passive paths as well as the lakefront trail.

Members will be furnished copies of the Framework Plan and the designers will work on concepts to present to the September 24 Steering meeting and October ? public meeting.

Here are some of the comments made at the meeting:


Coverage, September 3, October 1, October 29 (2003)

New beach, cove planned for Hyde Park lakefront

Hyde Park Herald, September 3, 2003. By Maurice Lee

[Ed.: Missed in this otherwise excellent article: the Framework Plan shows a cove that could collect pollution and litter (especially the south-facing beach) and would eliminate Pebble Beach. Because of concerns voiced about these, the public meeting was pushed back and planners went back to draw alternatives with an open mind informed by concerns and ideas expressed on these and other aspects by participants.]

Preliminary plans for the rehabilitation of the last stretch of HydePark/Kenwood's shoreline between 45th and 51st Streets call for a dramatically reshaped coast, including a new sheltered cove, a beach and two scenic overlooks.

But nothing is yet final, warned a group of local residents, leaders and city officials who met at Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave., to begin putting together a design to guide this latest section of the city and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Shoreline Protection project.

Participants from North Kenwood and Hyde Park, including Fourth Ward Ald. Toni Preckwinkle, parks advocates like Friends of the Parks and community stakeholders like the Kenwood/Oakland Community Organization and the University of Chicago, met in the first meeting of what is being called the project's focus design group.

City officials arrived with renderings based on the Burnham Park Framework Plan. According to Department of Environment Project Manager Vasile Jurca, planners have returned to the 1999 plan as a place to begin work on the project. "We thought it would be a good idea to revisit the plan and make it our starting point," said Jurca.

The renderings show a new cove, complete with scenic overlooks and a new beach area, to be built between 45th and 51st streets. The land expansion necessary for the project would push the lakefront as much as an eighth of a mile further out into the lake.

The renderings only represent a starting point for the project, according to Preckwinkle. Set on the Morgan Shoal, an above-ground bubble of bedrock in the lake off of 49lth Street, Preckwinkle says this stretch of shoreline offers a "unique" opportunity. Given that the shoal acts as a natural breakwater, Preckwinkle says planners can focus on things other than protection of the shoreline. "The fact that the bedrock is there and that it breaks the waves provides some opportunities for the development of the lakefront that are absent elsewhere." said Preckwinkle. "Given that unusual feature of the lakefront at that point, how can we take advantage of it?"

The group agreed last week to shift its first large public meeting, originally scheduled for Sept. 24..., to a later date to b announced. Because some members were unfamiliar with the details of the Burnham Park Framework Plan, the group decided to meet together again Sept. 24, after they have gone over the framework plan.

According to North Kenwood resident Mary Bordelon, the decision to pause will ensure that everyone in the group starts out on the same page and that the community's wishes come through. "We're at a good point in this where we can do it right," said Bordelon.


Hyde Park Herald, October 1, 2003. By Maurice Lee

Planning for the city's latest effort in the $301 million Shoreline Protection project is looking like a grassroots affair with the community in the driver's seat. As they returned t North Kenwood/Oakland last week to present the latest course of four concepts distilled from community input, city planers promised there would be no final plan for the project until community builds it.

All four concept plans call for the expansion of existing shoreline eastward into the lake. The new park land will be organized into two types of areas: "park rooms" and more passive natural areas called "park links." Park rooms are high traffic areas with interactive, recreational features like beaches or play equipment, while park links are quieter more naturalistic settings, like dune systems or animal habitats. The concepts illustrate the trade-offs that have to be made depending on whether the new parkland is more recreational or bucolic.

All plans feature sandy and pebble [ed. One does not feature a pebble beach] beaches, stone island break waters and prominent land features protruding into the water. The 49th Street beach plan features a half-mile long sand beach; the South Side Prairie plan features a semi-enclosed by and a meadow area nearly the size of Promontory Point; the Morgan Dunes feature a dune habitat and boardwalks leading to a sandy beach, while the Morgan Island concept offers a bridge accessible island set nearly 2,000 feet off of the shore.

"Some [of the designs] have more of some things than others; what we need to hear from you is what you would like to see more or less of," said Joanne bauer of the Bauer Latoza Architectural studio to a group of community and residents and leaders at Kennicott Park last week.

The morgan shoal project will mark the most ambitious undertaking so far in the city's shoreline project. The shoal is essentially a bubble of bedrock that lies very near to the surface of the water . because of the naturally durable foundation, which unique along the city's lakefront, planners are seizing the opportunity to do something different.

"With this project we have an opportunity to do things that are not possible anywhere else on the lakefront," said Bauer Latoza landscape architect and Hyde Parker Kelly Allegrezza. While the four concept plans were well received, many in th focus group balked at the extensive use of rubble mound revetment present in the four plans. Attacking the rubble monde construction on aesthetic grounds and citing that the porous barriers would collect litter and "dead fish," many questioned its appropriateness for the project.

"I'm just wondering if that's the best way to build along the shore," said one member.

The city's efforts to build public support for the project from the planning stages seems to be working. Kenwood Oakland Community Organization Executive Director Jhatayn Travis says planners are "doing a fairly decent" job of incorporating input from the focus group into the proposal. Travis says she wants to be sure the plan incorporates input already gathered during the Burnham Park Framework planning process into the project as it develops.

I have a great deal of respect for the people who participated in the Burnham Park Framework process and I would like to see a lot of their ideas go forward in the project," said Travis.

North Kenwood Homeowners Association Melinda Starks said she believed the project was moving in the "right direction."

Residents taking sides on plans for lakefront rehab

[Ed. In this writer's view Mr. Lee exaggerated polarization at the meeting, which was full of positive suggestions. But Mr. Lee is correct in his assessment that this is what the choices boil down to- active vs passive, and listening to closest vs farther neighbors. The space is limited to accommodate both the "passivists" and the "activists" and in some cases is very close to high rises. And that reduced space precludes a big activities area or "destination," although it only takes a few with a barbecue and loud radio.... Different from what it is at present it will in any case be.]

Hyde Park Herald, October 29, 2003. By Maurice Lee

The eventual landscape of the lakefront between 45th and 51st Streets may come down to a choice between two differing points of view, between those who want to sit and enjoy nature and those who want to play.

While project planners have laid out a smorgasbord of possibilities, in the end residents have fallen into two camps: those who want to see the redeveloped shoal as a premier recreational destination along the south lakefront and those who want to see it preserved as a quiet refuge apart from everything else. And in some ways the lines drawn reflect residents' addresses. Those living in lakefront high-rises near the shore seem to want to explore more passive uses for the shoal, while those living in newly developing areas want a place to have fun.

Last week, community members weighed in for the first time on the upcoming $35 to $50 million shoreline rehabilitation along the stretch of lakefront straddling the border between Hyde Park and Kenwood, the latest stretch of the Shoreline Protection project.

Emphasizing the open nature of the design process, planners encouraged audience members to look at the various concepts as pieces that could be cobbled together to build what the community wants. "These concepts can be thought of as a shopping list with features from each interchangeable with the others," said Project Architect Brad Winnick [Winick].

Randi Doeker, of the Chicago Ornithological Society, said given the prevalence of high use areas at other points along the lakefront—like 57th Street Beach and the new beach planned for 40th Street—and its nearness to residential areas, the park should protect current residents from an influx of summer revelers.

"I happen to live in that neighborhood and I also live next to Harold Washington Park," said Doeker, referring to the park located at [51st-]53rd and Hyde Park Boulevard. "In the summertime I can't open my windows because the noise from the park is so great. The people who live across the street in the Newport Apartments will suffer the same problem if high-usage is allowed on the east side of Lake Shore Drive."

Parking, a thorny topic in Hyde Park and Kenwood, was a significant issue for many in the audience. Though the shoreline section that sits astride the shoal is slated for the largest development of the nine-mile shoreline project it is also currently one of the least accessible. Vehicular access—or lack thereof—will likely have a significant impact on the type of use that can be supported at the shoal.

For several years a new pedestrian bridge has been slated to replace the existing pedestrian overpass at 47th Street. [W]hile construction may begin next year, no parking currently exists east of Lake shore Drive at 47th Street and there are no easy solutions for allowing cars access to the area. [Ed. note proposals include 2 possible locations for turn0ff/on dropoff from the northbound lanes of the Drive.]

South Kenwood resident Meryl Dann suggested rather than addressing the parking issue up front, planners wait and allow usage to dictate a solution. "Let's deal with what is, and assess [the parking need] when it happens," said Dann. "The whole parking thing goes against all the serenity you're trying to create," added Doeker. "And once you get started on that—whether it's drop-offs or whatever it's hard to stop."

Both Dann and Doeker live in close proximity to the shoal, in the apartment buildings clustered across the Lake Shore Drive. They were part of a group of audience members advocating a passive use for the shoal.

But others at the meeting said a passive use for the shoal does not take into account the changing demographics of the south lakefront or the likely users of the new shoal development."We're getting younger families with children, they want to have some place to go where they can actively do things," said North Kenwood Community Conservation Council chair Shirley Newsome. "You have condo developments, you have high rises, children don't have sufficient area in which to play, and so the ideal is to have a beach area or park area on the lakefront and this becomes their backyard."

Area residents should have plenty of opportunity to hash out their issues. Planners hope to use this and subsequent meetings planned for early next year to build consensus on the plan. What comes out of these processes doesn't mean everyone is happy with everything in them," said Rejman, "but what it does mean is we get input and we get the best possible plan for the greatest number of people."

Residents interested in offering comments on the project can go to the project website at


Morgan Shoal may block view from the Point

Hyde Park Herald, November 26, 2003. By Maurice Lee

As plans for the proposed $35 to $50 million rehabilitation of the shoreline at the Morgan Shoal, located near 49th Street at the lake shore, come into sharper focus, the city's project team must now answer ho one of the newest features on the lakefront will affect one of the oldest: Promontory Point.

Last week, project planners presented to the Morgan Shoal Focus design group variations of two new concepts for the project based on input received at a community meeting in October. "We're down to two concepts with variations on each theme,," said landscape architect Joanne Bauer.

While the new concepts differ vastly in configuration—the Morgan Sands concept stretches along the existing coastline further into Lake Michigan while the Morgan Peninsula thrusts a strip of land more than a third of a mile out along the shoal—both include many of t he same features: dunes, wetlands, beaches and islands in varying sizes.

While parking, visitor access and land use were again cited by focus group members as issues that needed to be better addressed at upcoming community meetings, a couple new issues popped up.

Given the distance the new shoreline feature could potentially protrude out into the lake, Mike Chrzastowski of the Illinois Geologic Survey suggested planners evaluate the impact of the new shoal development on existing sightlines to downtown from Promontory Point. "That land has to be high that it can withstand changes in lake level, plus there's going to be vegetation on top of that," said Chrzastowski."What we need to do is develop some elevation drawings so that we can see how that is going to change the views of downtown Chicago from Promontory Point."

Park district director of Lakefront Construction Rob Rejman agreed that the impact on sightlines from the Point are a concern and said planners would take steps—like superimposing scale elements of the Moran Shoal design onto photographs taken from the Point—as plans for the project firm up.

"[For] anything that we do out there, we would have at take a look at how the view points from Promontory Point are affected," said Rejman.

Increasing the level of community input in the process is also becoming a concern. Midway through the public meetings, planners want to ensure they finish with a plan that has broad support in the community, which means getting sizable attendance rom the community. But some wonder if the Kennicott Park location where th meetings have taken place precludes greater involvement from East Hyde Park. "You cannot get [to Kennicott Park] by bus from East Hyde Park, it's too far to walk, it's dark right now. So I think it's important to have the meetings in different places," said Chicago Ornithological society member and East Hyde Parker Randi Doeker. "We've had one public meeting here, we just need to have a meeting in the other end of the jurisdiction if you will."

But according to Bob Mason, executive director of the South [East] Chicago Commission, moving the meetings too far south would limit the numbers of North Kenwood Oakland residents who can attend. Mason said a strong North Kenwood Oakland presence at the meetings is imperative because of the projected growth for the area. "We certainly don't want to ignore the people from North Kenwood /Oakland. Because that's where all the development is going on and if you have [the meetings] down in Hyde Park it makes it difficult for people from North Kenwood/Oakland to get down there."


Year-end conclusions

Hyde Park Herald, December 31, 2003. By Maurice Lee

...preliminary planning for the city's rehabilitation of the last stretch of Hyde Park/Kenwood's shoreline between45th and 51st streets, set along the Morgan Shoal, is shaping up to be a grassroots affair, with the community thrust into the driver's seat. After the $35 to $50 million rehabilitation of the shoreline at Morgan Shoal, the eventual landscape of the stretch of lakefront between 45th and 51st Streets may come down to a choice between two differing points of view: those who want to sit and enjoy nature and those who want to play.

While the current concepts differ vastly in configuration--the Morgan Sands concept stretches along the existing coastline and pushes the land further into Lake Michigan, while the Morgan Peninsula thrusts a strip of land more than a third of a mile out along the shoal--both include many of the same features: dunes, wetlands, beaches and islands in varying sizes.

But given the size of the new development, planners will have to evaluate the impact of the new shoal landfill on existing sightlines to downtown from Promontory Point. Park district Director of Lakefront Construction Rob Rejman agreed that the impact on sightlines from the Point are a concern and said planners would take steps such as superimposing scale elements of the Morgan Shoal design onto photographs taken from the Point as plans for the project firm up. "[For] anything we do out there, we would have to take a look at how the view points from Promontory Point are affected," said Rejman.


Other expressed views early in the process:

Cedric Chernick wrote this editor the following comments:

(1) I hope there will be an environmental impact statement required for the effects such a plan would have on the Point and beaches south of the proposed plan, and (2) it appears to me that someone is trying to build a beach for studying e.coli pollution. That is already a shallow area and there does not appear to be any natural flushing, just a trap for bacteria.

Gary Ossewaarde submitted the following to the Hyde Park Herald after the first meeting:

To the editor:

A Focus Group on 45th to 51st Street park expansion and shoreline reconstruction was convened two weeks ago by the government sponsors and Alderman Preckwinkle (4th). (The first public meeting will be held in October.)

Among reasons public input is sought and important is that bedrock rises near the surface here and the shore is pinched close to the Drive, so this section provides an opportunity to expand the park and give it special and varied features. The latter could include a replicated ancient dune and habitat, fishing, picnicking areas, a beach, some kind of exercise or activity station, and bike and strolling trails.

Attendees generally liked expanding the park and installing new features (although not trying to turn it into a “destination point” or providing parking east of the Drive here).

But they found two serious flaws in the initial drawings. The planning team agreed to come back to the focus group with ways to reconcile dilemmas and differences.

The initial concept, derived from the 1999 Framework Plan for Burnham Park and published in the September 3rd Herald, shows a large cove partially enclosed by new peninsulas and piers, a south-facing sand beach on the north interior of the cove, and the cove’s west shore located much to the east of and obliterating the current, popular swimmers beach at 49th Street, known as “Pebble Beach.”

Attendees made it clear that they want to keep Pebble Beach with its characteristics that are useful to a variety of users. Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference supports this position.

Others pointed out that the configuration of the cove could turn it into a pollution collector and trap like notorious 63rd Street Beach. With respect to the sand beach, they noted that all other beaches in Chicago face north so, as the planners agreed, beaches are washed clean by the lake’s storms.

Several residents over the past year have contacted the Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference, other organizations, and Alderman Preckwinkle to express their interest, desires, and concerns for this special part of the lakefront. The Conference encourages residents to follow developments, attend upcoming meetings, and tell us as well as Alderman Preckwinkle what you think. Project Manager Vasile Jurca also encourages comments at

From the Conference’s perspective the key issues are keeping Pebble Beach and ensuring clean and safe lakefront and beaches.

You can read about the background and follow the evolution of this project and the entire Lakeshore Project in the Herald and in (from Park News, Point).

Gary M. Ossewaarde, Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference Parks Chairman


Ed Moran copied us the following sent to Mr. Jurca:

Sent: Friday, September 19, 2003 7:51 PM
Subject: Plan for Burnham Park from 45th to 51st Streets

Dear Mr. Jurca:

As a resident of Hyde Park who will be directly affected by your proposed plan, I am concerned that Lake Michigan will be obscured or otherwise blocked from view by the construction of an artificial sand dune. Will your proposed configuration of the park prevent someone from seeing Lake Michigan from Lake Shore Drive? I am reminded of the ugly concrete revetments along the lake on the north side, which have the effect of separating the lake from rest of the neighborhood. Is there some way to accommodate your plans and not block Lake Michigan from view? I do agree that it is a good idea to keep Pebble Beach, which my family uses quite a bit every summer. However, a replicated artificial sand dune could be a magnet for crime, such as sexual assaults, that would not otherwise take place due to the open vistas currently in existence. The Chicago Police Department already has its hands full in Hyde Park protecting its citizens; it would be naive to think that they could adequately patrol an additional city block of landfill that is hidden from view behind your proposed sand dune. For that reason alone, I think that your proposed sand dune would do more harm than good. The last thing that we want to do is make the lakefront less safe than it already is. Then it won't matter what you put there because nobody will use it.

I am interested in hearing your thoughts on this matter. Thank you for your attention..

Ed Moran


From the Concept Development Report 2004: The site; contrast from the 2000 Framework Plan to the Final Concept

areal showing Morgan Shoal Areal showing and delineating Morgan Shoal
Moragan current revetment condition A public meeting on the Morgan Shoal *47th-51st) plan

Morgan Shoal section envisioned in Framework Plan and...

Above: 2000 Burnham Framework Plan
Right: 2004 Final Dev. Concept. For in between, visit the series of pages.

Morgan Shoal final plan


2014-15. Virtually nothing was heard about the project after the final plan of 2004 except that funds were diverted from the Chicago Lakeshore project to the Iraq war (it was said).
October 28, 2014 a first-meeting was convened at the Mandrake Fieldhouse, 3858 S. Cottage Grove.
Notice was remarked as poor, and attendance mediocre. Several representatives from the Park District were in charge, notably Bob Foster, of the planning, design and construction division, Zhanna Yermakov, who ecological planning for the Dept. of Natural Resources notably the Calumet natural area, and Lauren Umek of DNR. Vasile Jurca represented construction for the city. Hired was design consultant Johnson, Johnson, and Roy.

Shown were the original design of the 1998 Burnham Framework plan, which envisioned some shoreline expansion (comparable to Promontory Point) with an embayment in the middle sheltered by arms on each side, and the final 2004 plan considerably more invasive into the lake and shoal. Noted was that the cost of the latter would now be about $100 million- and who would do it. JJR and the "local partners" came up with three more modest options that were presented tonight.

Explained was that the original plan for the whole lakefront, drawn up and funded in response to major flooding of the lakefront and U.S. 41 in the 1980s and 1990s, followed the usual legal mandate to the Army Corps and other federal projects: the determine what the task is (here mainly to protect transportation infrastructure (mainly U.S. 41)), determine a minimum baseline structural method to do that job-- in this case it was stone berm barrier either along the shore or offshore-- and fund a portion of it. If the "local partner" (city and park district) wanted a more expensive method, or something lasting beyond the mandated design life of 50 years, the local partner would have to pay the difference. In this case, the local partners, the state, and their representatives in Congress demanded a more aesthetic and accessible method that would replicate the failing barrier of piles, cribs, and limestone girding. (Background: Between then and start it was learned that the Corps determined limestone to be too expensive, so concrete slabs or stepstone would be used, and the ADA law was passed. There was also some governance by the Department of the Interior historic standards and need for environmental inpact studies.)

In the case of the stretch between 45th and 50th, limestone bedrock including Morgan Shoal came too close to the surface to allow pile-driving steel sheet metal down to hold concrete or other materials. So the protection of choice here was stone rubble along the historic shore made of rocks shaped and put in a slope that would resist the waves. In this case, 12 to 17 feet above the water datum, width and slope varying with height.

Option 1 was to do the whole stretch that way.

Option 2 was to bend the rubble berm sideways at about the middle of where the Morgan shoal reef ran north to south, with a trail and features for viewing and doing things like snorkeling or watching fish. A sheltered embayment would be be created by a submerged berm running semi perpendicular to the peninsula that would also protect against waves from the southeast. The peninsula would run near the Silver Spray wreck and past it- so several blocks.
The plan would include some reworking and addition (running vs. biking) of trails and some opportunity to vary the habitat fitting the shoreline.

Option 3 would have a broader but shorter variation of the shoreline extension, ending the peninsula right at the Silver Spray, and have beyond it one or two high islands. Much more and varied habitat would be created. This option is really 2004- lite.

Much discussion ensued, sometimes constructive, sometimes contentious, sometimes indicating a lack of scientific and other background information and failure of the team to present views as one would actually see looking from various points, and feeling that the needs of Bronzeville and Hyde Park residents were not taken into account, or possibilities to fit this project into larger schemes such as the Millennium Reserve or Historic Bronzeville National Park-- our lakeshore is the country's largest urban open space--

The team was asked to go back and find/present additional options that make minimal change, put first priority on preservation (and calling attention to) the shoal and shipwreck and work any improvements such as habitat or to trails into the stretch closer to the Drive, and especially to find an alternative to ugly rock piles visible from and obstructing views from the Drive and the trails. Attendees wanted to see what would be human-eye views to and over the rubble berm, from car, park, and the bridges across the Drive from each end. There was some willingness to have an overlook with information at the shoal, but not going out onto it.
Some attendees denied that any armoring is necessary at this stretch. ironically, within days the Great Halloween Storm of 2014 with 20 foot waves of piled up water and debris and up to 60 mile an hour winds made its appearance, tearing up trails etc. and depositing large amounts of debris along much of the lakefront. On the South Side, The Morgan Shoal section received the brunt, including overtopping and partial breakup and dispersal of the Silver Spray shipwreck. The manner of the destruction also raises some question about sufficiency of raw rubble mounds.

December 15, 2014. A considerably larger group assembled to hear revisions and break out into 3 groups for detailed ideas and preferences. This meeting followed an extreme storm on Halloween that tore up rocks and asphalt alike and cause closure of the lakefront bike trail for about a week. The wide extension into or over the Shoal were removed from two iterations. the shoreline was still extended outward about 75 feet into the lake but essentially followed the current shoreline. Most of the shore would be stoneclad (no sand beach), but they had not decided the rock or size although it would be quarried and would in most parts be 14-15 feet above the water rather than the current 12 feet. (The team was asked to double check necessity for that in each section.) Offered was whether to show the back side of the rocks/blocks or to have the lawn in back slope up to hide the backs, possibly with vegetation. Generally agreed was that the paths and ground contours would promote ability to see the water and views - including if possible from the Drive-- enhanced by raised viewing points or platforms in at least two stretches. Also generally agreed was to keep the pebble beach (redone but with the same kind of washed-in fossiliferous pebbly stone-- one iteration has this larger in width and further out than the other.

The two had similar mixes of nature, biking/running, and recreational or exercise areas in the lawn. People gave lots of ideas and additions for such while warning against overcrowding or over programming or filling it with things that do not fit with or enhance the unique character or features of this stretch (noted was that the new beach at 43rd is not much used, the implication being that some of the things suggested for the Morgan reach could be used there? Stressed (after the basic purpose of park and LSD protection) was the unique feature of the Shoal, so this could both become the Great Lakes' first underwater park, continuing (with some nature on the land) southward the natural areas on both sides of the Drive that end (west of the drive) a bit north of 47th. It is also an excellent place for great views of Chicago's shore and cityscape north and south. There were differences over how much to enhance people amenities such as comfort station/field and program house.
The next meeting probably in late January 2015 will present schematics for the ideas and the basic infrastructure.

Information coming on the Feb 26 2015 meeting.