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Park Avenue Boating Beach Breakwater/Barge Project

Project Background

High lake levels accompanied by intense storms over the past few years caused damage to the breakwater wall/barge and concrete ramp at Park Avenue Boating Beach. These extreme weather conditions have affected communities all along the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline.  

In June 2018, the Park District engaged with SmithGroup JJR to explore a variety of solutions, including repair of the existing barge breakwater, removal and replacement of the barge breakwater, and removal of the barge breakwater and replacement with an alternate breakwater structure. 

In 2019, the Park District formed a Park Avenue Working Group comprised of Park District Staff and Board, Highland Park City Staff and Council, North Shore Yacht Club Members, and resident boaters. The Park Avenue Working Group worked with our coastal engineer to seek fiscally responsible site improvements that provide long term access to boating activities at Park Avenue Boating Facility. The Park Avenue Working Group’s objectives were to:

The future of boating at Park Avenue and the Park District’s ability to provide programs and services safely amidst Lake Michigan water levels and weather-related conditions are contingent upon:

For more information on the project, e-mail Jeff Smith, Director of Planning and Projects at jsmith@pdhp.org.

 


Project Updates

9/28/21
The Park Board approved Phase 3: Final Engineering and Permitting for Option 3 Cellular Sheet Pile. Option 3 will provide pedestrian access with an approximately 12 foot-wide ADA accessible walking surface as well as a two lane boat ramp with two 6.5 foot ADA accessible floating docks. The anticipated timeline for the project is:

9/9/21
SmithGroup presented its Phase 2 findings, including an updated opinion of probable construction cost, to the Lakefront Committee. SmithGroup reported that current cost estimates were:

 
Option 3 Cellular Sheet Pile

Option 4 Rubble Fill
(Barge Not Removed)
Option 7 Rubble Breakwater with Pre-Cast Walkway
40' wide ramp w/ 2 floating docks
Publicly accessible walkway
32' wide ramp w/ 1 floating dock
No public walkway access
40' wide ramp w/ 2 floating docks
Publicly accessible walkway
Mobilization & Site Preparation
$110,000
$110,000
$110,000
Demolition & Removal
$530,000
$150,000
$530,000
Boat Ramp Construction
$100,000
$270,000
$470,000
Breakwater Construction
$1,350,000
$320,000
$970,000
Ancillary Items & Furniture
$230,000
$90,000
$200,000
Project Total (w/o contingency)
$2,320,000
$940,000
$2,280,000
Contingency @ 25%
$580,000
$235,000
$570,000
Project Total (w/ contingency)
$2,900,000
$1,175,000
$2,850,000

8/26/21
At their meetings this week, the Highland Park City Council and Park District Board of Commissioners approved an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) for the City-owned property commonly known as Park Avenue Boating Facility.   Under the conditions of the IGA, the Park District will have the right to use the property for public recreation purposes for a term of 50 years, including but not limited to fishing, power boating, sailing, kayaking, paddle boarding, use of the Yacht Club building, camp programming, and other comparable activities.  No rent or fee will be paid to the City by the Park District for the term of the agreement.  The agreement allows the Park District to make any necessary repairs or improvements to the boating facility so long as they do not impact the operation and maintenance of the water plant or present any threat to the safety and security of the water plant. 

6/22/21
At the Regular Board Meeting, the Park Board approved Phase 2: Preliminary Engineering.

6/8/21
At the Workshop Meeting, the Park Board approved Phase 1: Data Collection.

6/3/21
The Lakefront Board Committee provided consensus for staff to request a proposal from SmithGroup to develop engineering and construction documents for Option 7 Rubble Breakwater with Pre-Cast Walkway.

3/3/20
Last week, Park District staff met with representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA).   Both agencies were accessing damage to the south parking lot from the January 10 and 11 storm for possible federal funding to help with the repair of the lot.  

1/29/20
SmithGroup presented additional options for the repair or replacement of the barge/breakwater including a Trapbag Cofferdam with Walkway and an H Pile adaptive wall.  After extensive discussion, the Working Group recommended that the only options considered going forward should include removal of the current barge, and replacement with a new structure.  The Park Avenue Working Group identified two of the options as viable including:  Option #3 Cellular Sheet pile and Option #7 Rubble Breakwater with Pre-Cast Walkway.  Park District staff will discuss the two options to refine costs and begin working on funding models to be shared with the Park District Finance Committee.  The Working Group will reconvene in March. 

1/14/20
SmithGroup presented an overview on lake levels and the effects to the beach if the barge were completely removed.  In addition, the following barge repair/replacement options were presented to the Park Avenue Working Group:

  1. Barge Repair Encapsulation: The barge would be cut down and encapsulated with sheet pile. However, the length of the barge cannot be extended nor is there a pedestrian walking surface. 65-70 year lifespan.
  2. Barge Replacement In-Kind: The barge would be removed and replaced in-kind. This option includes a pedestrian walking surface, however,  the length of the barge cannot be extended. 28-34 year lifespan.
  3. Cellular Sheetpile: The barge would be removed and replaced with a cellular sheet pile. The sheet pile can be adjusted to any width or length, which increases the project costs, but provides flexibility.  Low cost maintenance would be required every 10-15 years.  A floating dock is included with this option.  A cantilever dock is an alternative option. 65-70 year lifespan. 
  4. Rubble Fill & H-Piles: The current barge would remain, H-Piles installed for support, the cargo box will be filled with rubble. 20-25 year lifespan. 
  5. Rubble Breakwater with Sheetpile: The barge would be removed, a sheet pile would be driven and surrounded with rubble breakwater. A floating dock can be attached for an additional cost. 50 year lifespan. 
  6. Rubble Breakwater with Raised Core: The barge would be removed and replaced with a breakwater. A floating dock can be attached for an additional cost. 50 year lifespan 
  7. Rubble Breakwater with Pre-Cast Walkway: The barge would be removed and a breakwater would be built around a pre-cast narrow pedestrian walking surface.  High cost optional items are an H-Pile with an attached floating dock and the pier or groin can be widened.  Low cost infrequent maintenance would be required.  50 year lifespan.
  8. Cantilevered Sheetpile Wall: The barge would be removed and replaced with a sheet pile wall and stiffeners. The wall would block the view of the lake from certain points of the beach when the lake levels are low.  65-70 year lifespan.
  9. H-Pile Adaptive Panel Wall: H-Piles would be installed behind the current barge to extend its life. This project can be completed in two phases to maximize the life of the current barge and reduce upfront costs. Once the barge is completely removed a floating dock can be attached for an added cost, but this will reduce the launch to a single lane. There are potential high costs for ongoing maintenance, because the panels can break easily during severe storms. 50 years beyond residual barge. 
  10. Trapbag Barrier Wall: A leveling base material and trapbags filled with tremie concrete would be placed inside the cargo box of the barge. Tremie concrete is $300 per cubic area and requires special equipment to place the trapbags into the cargo box, so this  increases the costs of the project. The residual life of the barge is dependent on the stability of the trapbags.  Lifespan based on residual life of barge. 

12/16/19
The Park Avenue Working Group identified its goals and objectives:

Park District staff was directed to work with Smith Group to develop conceptual design options for barge repair or replacement. 

11/18/19
On Wednesday, November 13, the Park District of Highland Park invited Park Avenue powerboat launch pass holders to a meeting, at which an update was provided on the current status of boat launching via the concrete ramp at the Park Avenue Boating Facility.   Park District staff indicated that the barge, which acts as a breakwater for the concrete boat launch, has met its useful structural life and needs repair or replacement.  The costs associated with a repair or replacement of the barge is estimated to range between $550,000 – $1.6 Million.  The Park District is seeking third party funding for this project and asked the boaters to share their feedback.  Currently, the Park District plans to operate all facilities at Park Avenue Boating Facility in 2020.  However, numerous factors will play a role in the future of boating at Park Avenue. 

4/3/19
Staff provided a recommendation for the repair or replacement of the barge breakwater structure at the October 23 Board Meeting. The Board asked that Staff go back to SmithGroup to discuss additional options.

At the March 12 Board Workshop Meeting, SmithGroup presented on the options developed for the repair or replacement of the barge breakwater structure, including four additional options. The Board directed Staff to review the options presented and prepare an economic analysis based on usage costs, fees and the various costs involved and report back to the Board.

A summary of the options is below:

10/19/18
At the October 16 Board Workshop meeting,  SmithGroup JJR presented its findings and four design concepts for the repair or replacement of the barge at Park Avenue.  As part of their work, SmithGroup JJR was asked to explore a variety of solutions, including repair of the existing barge breakwater, removal and replacement of the barge breakwater, and removal of the barge breakwater and replacement with an alternate breakwater structure. Each concept was examined for ease of design and construction, permitting requirements, service life, and cost. A summary of the concepts is below:

Barge Repair – 6-8 month permit process, 8-10 week construction. Cost: $1,588,100  (65-70 year service life)
Barge Replacement – 12+ month permit process,  12-14 week construction. Cost:  $1,337,350   (28-34 year service life)
Cellular Sheetpile –  6-8 month permit process, 12-14 week construction. Cost: $1,389,620 (65-70 year service life)
Rubble Fill w/ H-Piles – 3-4 month permit process,  6-9 week construction. Cost:  $555,770 (20-22 year service life)

A staff recommendation will be presented to the Board for approval at the October 23 Board Meeting.

6/26/18
The Board approved the staff recommendation to engage SmithGroup JJR to explore a variety of solutions, including repair of the existing barge breakwater, removal and replacement of the barge breakwater, and removal of the barge breakwater and replacement with an alternate breakwater structure. SmithGroupJJR will also consider need for any temporary repairs. At the completion of this study, staff will present options to the Park Board which will include estimated cost, project timeline and required permitting. A determination will then be made on how to proceed with the project. 

5/22/18
A discussion on the Park Avenue barge will take place at the June 12 Park Board meeting. A recommendation for selection of an engineering firm will be presented for approval at the June 26 Park Board meeting.