Millard Beach Pathway
& Bluff Restoration
Portions of the Bluff Path and Benches are Temporarily Closed.

Work to repair failed slopes and improve slope stability at Millard Park is anticipated to begin late summer 2022. During this time, portions of the bluff path and park will remain blocked off due to erosion on the bluff and possible unstable conditions. Due to the nature of construction, the park roadway access and parking may be temporarily closed at times. Please follow detour signs for available paths through the park.

Millard Park and Beach is one of four lakefront properties owned by the Park District and is maintained as a passive natural area with minimal recreation amenities. Access through the park begins along a rustic path that runs across the western portion and middle of the park, passing both through and around a historic garden. Another trail runs along the east edge of the park, along the bluff. All paths unite to a single route along the northern half and lead to a gazebo structure. Overall, the park encompasses about 1,300 linear feet of bluff face ranging in height from 20 to 75 feet above the lake. The beach divides into four sections by sheet pile walls extending 70 to 150 feet long into Lake Michigan.

Over the past few years, storm and wave damage exacerbated by high lake levels have led to slope failures at the toe and top of the bluff. Based on a recommendation from the 2021 Beach Management Plan completed by SmithGroup, staff received Board direction to select a firm to provide a geotechnical study of the bluff and recommendations for future treatment. V3 Companies conducted a Slope Stability Analysis and recommended strategies for ensuring safety and long-term preservation of the bluff in keeping with its natural character and use as a passive park and beach. That report was delivered in July 2021 and presented to the Park Board of Commissioners on August 24, 2021. On September 30, 2021, staff received direction to develop a bid document for recommended remediation. This work may include:

Site work is anticipated to begin in Fall 2022.

Project Updates

December 1, 2022

Tree removals to protect the Millard Park lake bluff from further erosion are scheduled to begin the week of December 5. During this time there may be construction traffic on the west access road leading to the top of the park and there may be path closures. The work is expected to take 2 to 3 weeks but will depend on suitable weather conditions to avoid damaging the sensitive lake bluff.  

When large trees fall due to storms or other natural causes, major damage can occur as they tear away soil and underlying clay.  By proactively removing at-risk trees on the slope and installing native plants and shrubs, we hope to stabilize the bluff. For more information, contact Rebecca Grill at rgrill@pdhp.org.

December 1, 2022
October 10, 2022

Restoration to the lake bluff at Millard Park has begun with the re-routing of park pathways by Parks crews. New connections will allow visitors to walk in the popular upper park at most times during this project. The first construction phase is anticipated to start in November and continue through the winter and early spring of 2023.

October 10, 2022
October 4, 2022

Park District crews have begun to reroute portions of the Millard Park pathway to prepare for the Bluff Restoration project. Some of these temporary paths will eventually become permanent. This is due to the need to move paths away from the bluff edge to protect from future erosion.

October 4, 2022
September 28, 2022

On September 28, 2022, the Park District Board of Commissioners approved the award of 2022-2023 Millard Bluff Grading and Tree Removal project in the base amount of $319,300. The contractor, RES Environmental Operating Company LLC, is expected to begin work in the coming weeks.

September 28, 2022
June 1, 2022


Priority removal of trees is along the top and base of the slope where significant slope failure is already occurring, exacerbated by uprooted trees that tear out fragile bluff soils.

A revised invitation for bid will be issued for 2022 Millard Bluff Grading and Tree Removal. Work will include grading of sheer top of bluff slopes to a stable 2:1 ratio, removal of trees to promote soil stability and restoration of the area with native seeds and live plants.

June 1, 2022
May 1, 2022

District Staff worked with City of Highland Park Building and Forestry departments to refine the scope of work, significantly reducing the number of trees for removal and getting approval for grading and restoration plans.

May 1, 2022
January 1, 2022

With Army Corps, City Forestry and IDNR permit reviews complete, an invitation for bid was issued for 2022 Millard Bluff Tree Removal. A single bid was received and opened on January 14. Staff recommendation was to defer this work to take place under safer weather conditions and to combine tree removal with proposed grading work, therefore, no bid was accepted.

January 1, 2022
November 30, 2021

A Joint Application to the US Army Corps of Engineers to permit access to the beach has been submitted as planning for work to stabilize the bluff continues.

November 30, 2021
November 8, 2021

Staff met on-site with V3 Companies and City staff to plan a detailed topo survey of the bluff face and tree inventory.

November 8, 2021
September 20, 2021

At the Parks and Natural Areas Committee Meeting, staff presented the Millard Park project plan for 2021 and 2022 based on the bluff stabilization report by V3. Recommendations include bluff trail relocation and grading, tree removal and slope grading on the bluff, seeding and planting, repair of the concrete seawall on the beach, and ongoing monitoring. The total cost for these projects is estimated to be $313,500. The Committee provided consensus to enter into an agreement with V3 for engineering, design, survey, and permitting in the amount of $24,300. 

September 20, 2021
August 24, 2021

Slope Stability Analysis presented to the Park Board by Greg Wolterstorff, V3 Companies.

August 24, 2021