Calling all art critics!

The semi-finalists have been chosen, and now it is your turn to weigh in on the design you believe best suits the two concrete structures at Moraine Beach. Residents will have until Tuesday, April 11, 2023, to vote, and the Park District Board of Commissioners will determine the final winning design.

Design Contest Background

In February, the Park District of Highland Park and The Art Center Highland Park began seeking submissions to decorate the two concrete structures at Moraine Beach. Artists were invited to submit their family-friendly concepts/designs for the two installations. A panel of judges from the Park District of Highland Park and The Art Center selected the semi-finalists, whose designs are now being shared with the community for feedback. The Park District of Highland Park Board of Commissioners will choose the final winning design. The Park District Highland Park will award a stipend of $250, and The Art Center Highland Park will award a $250 tuition credit for the winner(s).

Grading work is set to begin this week to create a more stable slope and upper park. There may be closures to the beach parking lot to allow safe movement of construction equipment.

For more information, contact Liz Ricketts, Natural Areas Manager, at

On Wednesday, March 15 crews will begin installation of the dog enclosure fence at Moraine Park and Beach. The path will be closed during the times that crews are working. Work is expected to take 4 days. We appreciate your patience during the fence installation.

About the Project

In summer 2019, Park District began working with engineering firms, contractors, and the US Army Corps of Engineers to investigate numerous repair approaches and reopen the path and Dog Beach. In early 2020, an engineering firm was hired to develop preliminary site improvement plans. Those plans were presented to the Park Board in August 2020. After careful consideration, the Park Board elected to defer the final design phase to a future year. Repair of the beach access path is a goal in the Lakefront Master Plan Update. The project’s final design was included in the 2021 Capital Plan, and construction began as scheduled in 2022. 

Calling All Artists and Designers!

After being closed for some much-needed repairs, the Moraine Park Dog Beach is scheduled to re-open in Spring 2023. As great as the new area will be there is still one thing that needs to be done and you’re invited to participate.

The Park District of Highland Park and The Art Center Highland Park are seeking submissions to decorate the two concrete bunkers located on the beach. These structures are now just bare concrete and we’re looking for ideas to make them an added feature attraction.

To enter: Artists are welcome to submit their concepts/designs for the two installations (see picture inset) from February 3 through March 6, 2023. Designs must be family-friendly but otherwise can be proposed in any style or concept you can imagine. A select panel of judges from the Park District of Highland Park and The Art Center will select the finalists and share them via social media. The final five favorites will be posted on both organizations’ websites and the public will have an opportunity to submit their feedback for the winning design. Winning designs will be selected by the Park District of Highland Park Board of Commissioners.

Guidelines: Artists/designers can submit as many ideas and concepts as they want. Submissions should be made as PDF attachments and emailed to Winning submissions will be notified via email by April. The Park District of Highland Park will reimburse for paint and provide access to the location. The artist is responsible for realizing the design of the structures, weather permitting, on a date to be arranged with the Park District Highland Park and the selected artist.

The Park District Highland Park will award a stipend of $250, and The Art Center Highland Park will award a $250 tuition credit for the winner(s).

After 30+ years, the time has come to say farewell to what remains of the gazebo and fishing pier at Danny Cunniff’s pond. Once grander in scale, the fishing deck’s pier was removed in an effort to prolong the gazebo’s life for a few more years. This extended lifespan has now reached its end and the Park District plans to remove what remains of the gazebo and fishing deck in the next few months. 

For any questions or comments, please contact

The fruits of your feedback have arrived!

The Park District is excited to share the final playground renovation design for Moroney’s Weil Tot Lot. Following several rounds of community engagement, the collected feedback was translated into the final equipment selection and playground layout. See updated playground design rendering here.

The Park District would also like to share the redesigned playground entrance pathway, which will be ADA accessible and ease the slope into the playground. Through community engagement, the desire for stroller parking was heard, and will be included at the entrance path. See updated entrance pathway plan here.

Next Steps: We are on track to bid out this project in December and construction is anticipated to begin in the spring.

This week, Park District crews added a layer of protective mulch around select trees in Sunset Woods Park, as a follow-up to the air spading project that addressed soil compaction. Properly applied, the mulch layer helps regulate soil temperature and moisture to promote root health.

Thank you for your continued patience as we work to ensure that the playground is safe for play. The remaining pour-in-place rubber surfacing is expected to pick back up next week. We are targeting Mid-August for full completion.

Why are the new playgrounds not open?

We are all disappointed that the new playgrounds are not yet open. Our crews have been working hard to keep the project moving, but unforeseen challenges and setbacks have impacted the overall schedule.

It’s apple blossom season at The Preserve! Providing early blooming flowers is key to helping pollinators get through the lean months of spring. Five varieties of apple trees in the Pollinator Garden give honeybees a welcome boost.

At the April 27 meeting, the Park Board approved construction of Phase 1 of the Park Avenue Breakwater Project in the amount of $2,221,890.  The base scope of this project includes removal of the existing barge breakwater and boat ramp, stockpiling and salvaging existing breakwater fill and armor stone, construction of a new steel sheet pile breakwater with a concrete crown wall and construction of a new concrete boat launch.   Funding for the project includes $2,000,000 from the Park District’s capital fund and $400,000 from the Parks Foundation of Highland Park, made possible from community donations. Construction begins this Fall.

Capital Budgeted 2022$2,000,000
Donations (approximate as of 4/27/22)$400,000
Lakes & Rivers Construction Total Base Bid with Value Engineering($2,221,890)
5% Contingency($110,000)
SmithGroup Construction Phase Service($68,000)
Anticipated Amount Under Budget$110

Phase 2 of the Breakwater Project is construction of ancillary items that support safe use of the boat ramp including an ADA accessible floating dock, safety bollards and lighting.  This phase is currently not funded and is estimated to cost $280,000.  The Park District has applied for a Boat Access Area Development Grant through IDNR for $200,000.  If the Park District is awarded this grant, additional funds will be needed to complete the project.  If the Park District is not awarded the grant, portions of Phase 2 will be delayed until funding has been secured.  In this instance, an estimated $180,000 will be needed to complete necessary portions of Phase 2.  The Park District will likely seek construction bids for Phase 2 in December 2022 for construction to be completed by Memorial Day Weekend 2023.