WILMETTE – Will swimming be banned at Langdon Beach this summer? The Wilmette Park District expects to make a decision in the next few weeks.
“That slope is getting very, very steep and so the public should use some caution when taking the path all the way down to the lakefront,” Commissioner Bryan Abbott said at the park district Board of Commissioners meeting on April 9, when the commissioners discussed Langdon Beach erosion.
The steep drop makes it difficult to access the beach. Commissioner Ryrie Pellaton said the Lakefront Committee had discussed the issue of Langdon erosion at its meetings, asking whether grading could improve access to the beach.
Commissioner John Olvany said he visits the beach often and feels it is getting worse. “In the 30 years I have been there I have never seen so many rocks,” Olvany said.
Kathy Bingham, the district’s recreation superintendent, said Park District officials are carefully monitoring the beach to evaluate whether it can be opened as a swimming beach this summer. Typically, the Park District deploys heavy machinery to grade the beaches in late April, she said. Beaches open for the summer over Memorial Day weekend.
“This year the conditions are very different. We have never seen a cliff quite like what we have now,” Bingham said.
Officials want to give the beach more time so they can observe if early spring storms might change the conditions. Bingham said they would definitely know by early to mid May if the beach should be open for swimming.
Steve Wilson addressed the issue in his April Director’s Report, which he was unable to present at the meeting due to illness. In the report, Wilson wrote that the amount of sand at Langdon changes on a daily basis. Based on studies, beach erosion tends to be greater when lake levels are higher. As of March, Lake Michigan’s water level was 176.76 meters, according to data collected by by the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, which is a part of the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration. The last time water levels were this high were in March 1998, prior to Langdon becoming a swimming beach in 2007, according to Wilson.
Olvany asked if Langdon would be utilized similar to Elmwood Dunes, if it were not opened as a swimming beach this summer. Bingham noted that it would require some monitoring, especially on weekends when it is busier.
But it is unlikely the Park District will consider any type of restoration project at this time.
“We have not even considered that,” Pellaton said.