Lakefront Planning Input Sought
The Park District scheduled three events as part of the effort to continue gathering community input in the development of a long range lakefront master plan for Gillson and Langdon Parks/Beaches. Residents were invited to walk the parks, view three proposed alternatives, ask questions and share their thoughts with the Board of Park Commissioners. The remaining input session is:
- Monday, Dec. 10, at 7 p.m. the Board of Park Commissioners' regular meeting at Village Hall will include a public hearing to hear comments and suggestions from the community.
The previous sessions were:
- Saturday, Nov. 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lakeview Center in Gillson Park. Hear a short presentation about the three proposed alternatives and then walk the parks to see firsthand the suggested improvements.
- Thursday, Nov. 15, from 7-9 p.m. an Open House at the Lakeview Center. The proposals will be on display and members of the consulting team that drafted them, along with Park District staff, will be available to answer questions.
The three proposals were presented to the Board of Park Commissioners at its regular meeting held Monday, Oct. 8, 2012. When viewing the alternatives it is important to note that all elements can be mixed and matched to form a final plan. It is not necessary to adopt a single alternative in its entirety. Click here for detailed information regarding the lakefront master plan process and the alternatives that are currently being reviewed by the community and the Board.
The three alternatives were based on input gathered through public workshops, letters, emails and phone calls—all of which shared a common belief that it is important to preserve the best of what exists and carefully plan for the future. The proposed improvements focus on four primary areas within both Gillson and Langdon Parks: 1) structures 2) traffic/circulation, 3) landscape/recreation and 4) waterfront.
Residents unable to attend one of these events are welcome to email Executive Director Steve Wilson with their thoughts. He can also be reached at 847-256-9617.
By way of background
Gillson Park originated in the early 1900s as the result of landfill from the construction of the North Shore Channel of the Chicago River. The property was deeded to the Wilmette Park District by the State of Illinois. The site is heavily used during warm weather periods, but is open throughout the year. Lakefront operations include Gillson Park and Beach, a swimming and land based sailing operation; the Wallace Bowl (outdoor amphitheater); outdoor tennis courts; and the Lakeview Center, a facility which is open for rentals nine months of the year.
Langdon Park was purchased by the Park District in the late 1950s. It was originally a private swimming beach and a land based sailing operation. Rising lake levels and severe erosion led the Park District to relocate the sailing operation to Gillson Park in the late 1970s. The Park District undertook an erosion control project in 1986 to save the park with the cooperation of the Army Corps of Engineers. With lake levels dropping, the beach expanded and it became a popular destination. To control crowds and improve safety, the Park District opened it as a paid admission swimming beach in 2007.
In 1982 the Park Board determined that age and the elements had taken their toll on the Wallace Bowl, which was originally dedicated as the Wilmette Outdoor Amphitheatre in 1946. A rejuvenated Wallace Bowl was rededicated in July, 1984, and included new stone terraces topped with Douglas fir benches; a new drainage system, new lighting, an enlarged stage and new landscaping and paved pathways allowing access for those with disabilities. The Lakeview Center, located in Gillson Park, was dedicated in 1989 and offers shelter to park patrons as well as a beautiful site for meetings and parties.
The most recent improvements to lakefront operations took place in the 1990s which included the construction of a new Gillson Park tot lot and a sand volleyball court in 1991. Overlook Drive was reconstructed to include a larger walkway, benches and dune grasses to help reduce the amount of drifting sand. A picnic shelter was added in 1992 and a network of interior sidewalks were built to reduce the amount of on-street pedestrian traffic in 1992. The seawall was reinforced by adding rip-rap in 1998, and the Gillson Park tennis courts, which had originally built in 1929, were completely demolished and reconstructed in 1999.