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Lakefront Planning & Projects

Our lakeshore, bluffs, ravines, and public parks physically define Highland Park. The Park District maintains four lakefront properties that offer public access to this magnificent shoreline: Millard, Moraine, Park Avenue Boating Facility, and Rosewood. Each lakefront property provides a unique mix of ecological, recreational, aesthetic and educational value that is an integral part of the historical, cultural and natural resources of Highland Park.

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In 2007 the Park District completed the first Lakefront Master Plan in collaboration with the City and the community. The Lakefront Master Plan looked at the four lakefront properties individually and holistically. In 2020 the Park District updated the plan based on community input and lakefront activity from 2017 – 2020.

Click here to read through the plan.

In 2020 the Park District was awarded a grant from the Illinois Coastal Management Program to conduct a Beach Management Plan to recommend achievable operations and maintenance strategies to respond to climate change effects at Park District lakefront properties. The Park District worked with coastal engineers and regional experts to develop strategies tailored to each unique property.  The Park Board of Commissioners adopted the plan in April 2021.

The Park District of Highland Park Beach Management Plan is supported by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources’ Coastal Management Program through a federal grant from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.

Current and ongoing planning efforts and projects at Park Ave Boating Facility. Click the links below to learn more.


Park Avenue Background

Park Avenue Boating Facility provides value to its users, including sailors, paddleboarders, fishermen, powerboaters, and leisure visitors.  The benefits these users receive are consistent with the Park District’s mission “to enrich community life through healthy leisure pursuits and an appreciation of the natural world.” 

Portions of Park Avenue are owned by both the Park District and the City of Highland Park.  The Park District owns the northernmost property, including the boat storage and beach.  Like all the parks and natural areas managed by the Park District, this property is subsidized through taxation because it protects and conserves open space and promotes physical and mental well-being of our residents.  Visiting Park Avenue by bike or by foot, or even taking advantage of the small parking area to the north, are benefits offered to all Highland Park residents.  

The property to the south is owned by the City of Highland Park, which includes the road, parking spaces, and land where the south storage pad, yacht club building, and concrete boat launch are located.  The site is also home to the Highland Park Water Treatment Plant, which provides safe drinking water to Highland Park and surrounding communities.   The barge, owned by the Park District, is located adjacent to the south property.  

The Park District has operated the Park Avenue concrete boat ramp and decommissioned barge since they were installed by the Park District in 1981.  Power boaters and  non-power boaters including their family members and guests enjoy the benefits of boat launching and boat storage at Park Avenue Boating Facility.  Additionally, many enjoy the benefits of kayaking, sailing, paddle boarding, and simply appreciating the natural beauty of Lake Michigan. 

Boat launching and boat storage is also a service provided by the Park District.  Like many recreation programs and services offered through the Park District, these services provide the most benefit to the individual participant. In keeping with Park District Policy, recreation services must be supported by user fees and are expected to exceed the direct operating cost.  User fees support the administration, staffing, annual dredging and maintenance for the barge, concrete boat launch, and beach at Park Avenue.  The Park District works with the North Shore Yacht Club (NSYC) providing small craft boating programs and services to the community. NSYC is an affiliate of the Park District and provides its own leadership and administration.

Learn more about Park Ave Boating

Current and ongoing planning efforts and projects at Rosewood Beach. Click the links below to learn more.

  • Rosewood Beach Shoreline Project
  • Drainage and Grading Improvements

    This project seeks to sustain and improve the ravine path that connects upper Rosewood Park with Rosewood Beach.

    The scope includes installation of a drainage system at the upper park to prevent runoff from upper Rosewood Park and the resulting path washout. Once complete, stormwater falling on the upper park will be collected in a system comprised of storm sewer and drainage structures. The stormwater will flow through the underground system to the ravine stream down below.  The grading improvements are intended to ease the slope of the path at the steepest section to enhance pedestrian access to Rosewood Beach.

    During construction:

    • The ravine path and the north west portions of the upper park will be closed.
    • All other areas within the park and beach and both parking lots will be open throughout the project.
    • To access the beach from the Upper Park (off of Roger Williams) use the bluff stairs at the east side of the parking lot. Signage will be placed at the park.

    This project is scheduled to take place from Mid- April through Mid-May. We appreciate your patience as we work to improve the park.

    Questions? Please contact Mike Evans, Landscape Architect, at

Record-setting, heavy rainfall in spring 2019 caused portions of the ravine path leading to beach to fail. For our residents and dog beach pass holders’ safety, the path and access to the dog beach were closed.

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 is included in the 2021 Capital Plan, with construction scheduled for 2022. 


Project Updates: 

7/29/21 –  On June 8, 2021, the Park District Board of Commissioners approved moving forward with the final design for the project. Staff is currently working with an engineering firm to develop construction documents. Construction of a boardwalk to restore lakefront access is scheduled for 2022.


Current and ongoing planning efforts and projects at Millard Beach:

  • Millard Park bluff evaluation

The District is working with an engineering and geotechnical firm to evaluate the trajectory of the bluff at Millard Park to determine recommended management for public safety and protection of resources. During the evaluation, because the stability of the bluff is unknown, portions of the bluff path, as well as the benches directly along the bluff, are temporarily blocked off .  Please  follow detour signs for available paths through the park.

Bluff Management:

Bluffs are naturally an ecosystem of disturbance. Once made unstable through failure at the toe or slippage on the slope, bluff disturbance tends to continue until the area reaches its “angle of repose” or relative stability. This may appear as a small surficial slump on the bluff or full toe to crest slip failures.

Questions? Please contact Dan Voss, Director of Parks, at