"Highland Park bringing in 'bird's-eye view sand' to combat beach erosion

HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WLS) -- The Chicago area had beach weather on Friday, and that's exactly where you'll find the Klein family, specifically Highland Park's Rosewood Beach, which is eroding, prompting officials with the Park District of Highland Park to plan on moving more sand to the beach.

"This is a place we come a few times a week," said Jordan Klein, as his daughter sat in his lap, his son splashing away in the water. "It's a time to relax after work, relax after school."

But the Klein family has noticed changes at Rosewood Beach. The rising water levels have chewed away at the beach, creating a sand wall in some locations rather than an easy sloping beach that's great for children. Officials with the park district now consider it a safety issue.

"There's a steep cut on the beach where it used to be flat and people used to be walk to the shore. There's now a significant drop off we're concerned about," said Rebecca Grill, natural areas manager for the Park District of Highland Park.

Grill said the district has applied for an "expedited permit" with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that will allow the park district to add sand to two coves -- but not just any sand.

The finer, lighter sand, known as "torpedo sand," is currently on the beach. Grill said the district plans to use a coarser sand in hopes it will stay along the shoreline. The new sand, which they hope to have by October, is called "bird's eye sand."

"We're going to try to take advantage of a coarse sand that will hold the shoreline and hopefully stabilize it for us," Grill said.

Beach erosion is a concern up and down the lakefront, including the city of Chicago's beaches. The Chicago Park District is concerned about places like Juneway Beach, where the sidewalk has caved in, the dirt below it washed away.

Holly Jordan lives in Rogers Park near Juneway Beach and calls the erosion problem "distressing."

"Now there is hardly any beach left. It's significant. I think, yes, because the fences are up, because it looks bad, because it's dangerous, people aren't coming here anymore. And it's sad," she said.

The Chicago Park District is concerned about several locations, including:

-Howard Beach

-Rogers Beach

-49th Street Beach

-Outer Harbor in Jackson Park

The Chicago Park District is currently conducting a study about the high water levels and the shoreline protection projects needed in the future. Since the study is still underway, no specific recommendations have been released yet.

At Juneway Beach, the concrete hunks that once created a barrier are askew, washed into awkward angles by the water's force. Victor Velasco and his family sat near the water's edge, but not too close.

"People just got to use their common sense and try not to get so close. Try to enjoy it from afar," he said.

Back in Highland Park, officials want more sand to protect the shoreline from the upcoming storms. The Klein family wouldn't mind a little more space on the beach, especially when it's packed on weekends.

"People aren't fighting over space," Klein said, "but certainly it would be great to have a lot more land to play on and more space for people to do things."
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