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Tunney Issues Statement on Belmont Rocks Work

This article shared 2196 times since Wed Apr 2, 2003
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44th Ward Ald. Tom Tunney has waded into the Belmont to Diversey Revetment Project debate with a response to a letter sent by representatives of several neighborhood groups.

Excerpts from the letter:

My primary concerns in relation to revitalization of the revetment between Belmont and Diversey are 1) Preservation of the aesthetic beauty and structural integrity of this valuable lakefront area, 2) Accessibility to the lake and lakefront park areas, and 3) Safety of the public.

I have communicated ... suggestions and concerns from the community to the city and to the Army Corp of Engineers. ... The revised design will incorporate many of the community-suggested 'user-friendly' features and it will differ from the revetment installed north of Belmont in several important ways and address our suggestions and concerns in the following ways:

Preservation of Aesthetic Beauty and Structural Integrity

·The elevation of the revetment section between Belmont and Diversey will be 1 1/2 feet lower than the height of the revetment north of Belmont. The city and Army Corp of Engineers have determined that the Belmont to Diversey section does not need to be as high as sections farther north because of less severe wave conditions along the Belmont to Diversey section that do not require a higher 'wave deflection' wall.

·Landscaping will meet the top of the revetment on the park side. This will allow a natural shore-to-lake transition, maximize the vistas of the lake from the shoreline, and minimize visibility of the revetment structure itself from the shore.

·The revised plan will require strict protection and maximum preservation of existing trees along the project area.

·The Belmont to Diversey revetment will minimize individual step heights to a constant 20 inches, which is lower than the originally proposed 30 inches..

·The Belmont to Diversey structure will incorporate re-use, to the fullest extent possible, of existing limestone rocks.

·The revetment plan will address drainage problems in the parkland behind the rocks that have caused frequent flooding and threatened the topsoil and grass of the park areas.

·I have initiated a discussion with several sectors of the community about the creation of a memorial garden in the park adjacent to the Belmont Rocks. This garden can serve as a place of beauty and reflection and a place to commemorate the important role that the Belmont Rocks has played in the lives of so many Lakeview residents, their friends, partners and families. It also may incorporate some of the existing rocks and preserve some of the 'art work' left at the rocks over many years.

·In order to make the area around the former gun club at the south end of the Belmont to Diversey beachfront safe and usable for the public, the city plan will provide additional landfill in this area. This new landfill will be a significant benefit to our Lakeview area beachfront. It will create between 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 acres of new lakefront lands made up of a combination of new open green space and the revitalized revetment.


·I strongly believe that this section of the lakefront, and the parklands adjacent to it, must be safe for all who use them.

·The revised city plan will add safety ladders at regular intervals to allow easier egress between shore and water. These will be painted yellow to ensure increased safety and enhanced visibility.

·The revetment will rectify major safety hazards that exist along the current sea wall by:

-replacing of sections of the current rocks that are unstable and may be resting in positions that make them precarious and unsafe for people to walk along them.

-restoring stability where large sections of the rocks, or the foundations beneath them, have collapsed, or where wave action over the years has created dangerous caverns under the rocks.

-eliminating hazards caused by the numerous and large gaps and holes that currently exist in long sections of the rocks. These hazards make walking along them dangerous for many, and impossible for some.

-reinforcing the stability and enhancing the usefulness of the parkland behind the sea wall.

Currently, large areas of parkland behind the rocks are threatened or left unprotected because of gaps that have developed between rocks because of cave-ins. Years of flooding over the rocks has washed out topsoil and created sink holes under some of the parkland behind the rocks.

-Eliminating fallen rocks and semi-submerged debris in the water adjacent to the rocks. This will reduce hazards for people (and their pets) who swim, kayak, windsurf or enjoy other recreation in these areas.


·I believe that the rocks, the park areas adjacent to them, and the lake itself should be as fully accessible as possible to all who want to use and enjoy them.

·The revetment from Belmont to Diversey, and the paths to it, will provide universal access with an even grade of the revetment to the shoreline.

·The revised plan will nearly triple the portion of the Belmont to Diversey shoreline that consists of people-friendly, raised-stone 'toe berms.' These will add a more seamless and synergistic visual and physical transition from the shore, to the revetment, and to the lake and increase direct lake access for the public.

·The revised plan will relocate paths going to the rocks in a manner that preserves maximum park recreational space and uses use alternate, natural materials as much as possible.

·The construction projects will be phased to minimize the work area and to maximize the amount of park space available for public use during the project.

·Additional ramps will also be installed that are consistent with ADA requirements.

Recent Animate/ARUP additional technical and other information issues about their alternative proposal

As requested at the March 6 community meeting, Joseph Lambke of Animate/ARUP has sent my office and the city additional information about the feasibility of the preliminary design which they presented as an alternative to the current Army Corp of Engineers design. In their most recent materials, Animate/ARUP has acknowledged some issues which their plan may not currently resolve. These issues include the following:

1.The ARUP plan would still use concrete, pre-cast blocks, rather than reuse existing limestone. 2.The most recent ARUP documentation acknowledges that poor ground conditions along the Belmont rocks may not support the weight of their concrete blocks and that those blocks may 'settle' in unpredictable ways in the future. ARUP acknowledges that this increases the risk of the blocks cracking as they settle. 3.ARUP acknowledges that, since the parkland adjacent to the Belmont rocks is landfill, their approach may be more likely to disturb any possible contaminated materials in the landfill than the current plan. 4.Heavy plant and equipment would be required under the ARUP plan along the shore during the project to lift the concrete blocks into position. 5.The ARUP plan would require that gaps be left between the concrete blocks to allow them to settle better. While this may allow the blocks to appear more natural, it might also cause significant problems for both able-bodied and physically challenged individuals to walk along the shoreline. 6.The ARUP plan also would require dumping of rock in front of their toe-berms to protect these berms from wave action. This would separate both their revetment from the lake and decrease direct public access to the water.

NOTE: The examples submitted by ARUP of projects they have completed which incorporate a similar design do not appear to be areas that are heavily used by the public for walking or sun-bathing purposes.

This article shared 2196 times since Wed Apr 2, 2003
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