From the Task Force public meeting of September 10, 2003 (Series 2003-04, #4)

The Point home and sub pages. www.SaveThePoint.org site incl. plans
City/Dept. of Environment site with city plan updates
Point Wkg Group (Mediator's) website: www.thepoint.invisibleinstitute.com.

The huge inflow of letters to the Herald are cached in www.hpherald.com/pointletters022504.pdf
Alderman Hairston's email. To Alderman's website- find City Council and scroll to name.

Mid-2003-March 2004 Series:
1: July 13 Task Force Preservation and Access Plan
text
2: Reports and text, views and links to view plans

3: City counter/compromise plan, reinstated January 28, 2004
4: [This page:] September 10 public briefing and summary
5: Reports of the Mediator of the Working Group meetings

6: Reports and Appeals March-December 2003
7: Reports, Appeals, Press from Jan.-Feb. breakdown period, incl. Mediator's Statement
8: Point dispute-statements-coverage-Rossi late Feb./March 2004
9: The March 9 summit and costing tasks to lead to final working group report due April 15
10: Listing on the '10 Most Endangered list; disputes over plans and 1994 Memorandum
11: Latest Promontory Point news, Expectations for resumed talks, perspectives
12: Key parts of the Mediator's final Report, May 2004

Report on the September 10 meeting called by the Task Force to review access issues plus durability vs longevity and where we go now.
by Gary Ossewaarde

Jack Spicer gave opening remarks then turned the meeting over to Greg Lane. Lane reported that the Summer Mobile police unit has given reasonable warning to swimmers, advising them that the swim season and lifeguards departed Labor Day.

In negotiating sessions with the park district/city team, the Task Force has been working on four issues, starting with the first:

Lane said that differences between the sides can be summarized in the terms used to denote some of the issues listed above: The district (which is taking the lead in the project) thinks in terms of universal access for the disabled, the Task Force in terms of access for persons with varied abilities, including children and the elderly. The district engineers think in terms of durability of the structure at any given moment, the Task Force in terms of longevity- how long will it last without failures? The district

wants to talk about best materials, the Task Force of materials in the context of preservation and a preservation plan reflecting what the community has said it wants to see and use at the Point.

For access, the Task Force is skeptical of depending only on ramps to get down, while the district is skeptical of ramps into the water. Both sides are discussing the whats and hows of modest steps downward and of ability to step into the water. (The Task Force has not abandoned its hopes that a way can be found for people in wheelchairs to get into the water and is seeking ideas.) The Task Force points out the wide range of disabilities revetment users have. 16 percent of people under 65 are in some way disabled; only 10 percent of these are in wheelchairs. Of the population over 65, 40 percent are disabled, with only 15 percent of these using wheelchairs.

Both sides support a smooth path following the revetment above the rocks and are looking at modest-step ways to to get down to the promenade. The district offers a total 600 feet of easy access, either a few long stretches or several short (50-foot) sections where limestone blocks provide stepping stones down into the water, with intervening sections having "blasted rock" limestone (larger chunks than "toestone") covering to about the top of the sheet wall water's edge. According to Lane, the district is beginning to see the importance of human-scale approaches, whether down the steps or into the water. But they are reluctant to use blocks into the water along the whole perimeter, especially if this might require purchase of limestone blocks.

The Task Force wants legalized, sanctioned swimming. The district's discussion of both water access and swimming is couched in terms of "safe egress."

Durability vs longevity. "Durability," the district's interest, speaks of momentary strength. "Longevity," the Task Force interest, seeks to place the emphasis on how long the structure will last. The Task Force has suggested that maintenance can largely be sidestepped if it is stated that all parties don't mind if rocks or sections tilt or move about. The district is still pushing for the lower part to be a single unit of concrete; the Task Force wants all or more limestone and certainly doesn't want a hybrid, with sharp contrast and transition and looking like the limestone is an add-on cosmetic and not the historic template. The Task Force thinks a reasonable time-last expectation is 70-100 years. The Task Force points out that limestone put in at Calumet in the 1950s using improved technology available then (and doubtless improved since) shows no sign of deterioration and that limestone has comparable strength and is much cheaper than the special concrete required.

Both sides are thinking in terms of a gradual lessening of concrete as the ends of the revetment are approached, but there is no doubt the transition to at least the new section to the north is going to look rather sharp. The Task Force has pointed out the importance of not creating an alienated segment of park users who think they have lost either uses or key characteristics of their park that they are used to.

The Task Force has convinced the team to begin considering the Point revetment as a series of sections. The Task Force wants the south side and the east concrete-platform "coffins" area left substantially alone and girdled with sheet wall and limestone in front of it.

A third-party engineer may be called in.

Where do we go now? Likelihood of success and "the program" need to be seen before a schedule including a big public meeting can be set. The Task Force will say in the next meeting that the hard controversies need to be addressed now so that a program and schedule can emerge. Lane did not think a public meeting likely before late October at earliest. While the thought had been that the project needed to be finished by the end of 2005, the Army Corps says "begun." No contracts have been let for bid. The district's stated fall-back position if the project never proceeds is to dump rubble on areas as they fail-- an outcome all find poor to unacceptable. (A person in the audience familiar with sealing parts of the old downtown tunnel system said that in the past two years cost-effective materials and technology have entered use that not only effectively fill but float, rather than crush, surrounding body of material. so that voids can be filled.)

The cost-benefit rationale for the project as approved in 1994 is to protect Highway 41. Legislation does not allow recreation as an allowable benefit justifying this project. But the legislation does include a preservation provision: "will match the existing."

The Task Force believes there is an obligation for preservation. This is backed up by the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency, which cites the terms of the 1994 memorandum of agreement between the federal and local sponsors.

In conclusion, Lane said he thinks this process the best, perhaps only, shot for a successful outcome and asked for continued support and patience- and letters to the Mayor.

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