When Forest & Bluff caught up with members from the Class of 2012 at Forest Park Beach, it occurred to us that they’ve never known Lake Forest not to have this wonderful gem—that seven years before any of them were even born, the restoration of Lake Forest’s shoreline was well under way.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of the historical restoration of Forest Park Beach. Under the watchful eye of Mayor Frank Farwell in the late 1980s, Lake Forest embarked on transforming itself into a city with a coastal landscape.
Art Miller, Archivist and Librarian for Special Collections at Lake Forest College and a frequent contributor to Forest & Bluff, recalls the motivation for restoring Forest Park Beach. “The beach had all but disappeared with high water levels that were lapping at the foot of the bluff, endangering it and causing concern that we could lose Forest Park [located at the top of the bluff] completely,” he says.
So the City of Lake Forest got to work. First, the Shoreline Restoration Advisory Committee was formed in November 1984 and was charged with determining the shoreline’s problems and finding solutions. Then came the March 1986 referendum when 76 percent of Lake Forest voters approved the $8.5 million bond issued to pay for the project. And, on May 25, 1987, after the restoration project was completed on time and on budget, the beach officially opened to thousands of residents.
Today, the City of Lake Forest is credited with one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Shore. “This is a terrific amenity that mingles old and new Lake Foresters of all generations. It’s a great social and recreational asset, making our city feel like a resort in the summer months,” Art adds. Jeff Wait, Superintendent of Special Facilities for the city of Lake Forest, is the point person for this month’s celebratory beach activities. “Lake Forest has a wonderful beach due to the hard work, persistence, and vision of the mayor, City Council, Shoreline Restoration Advisory Committee, the Y.E.S. Committee, and City staff from 25 years ago. Without their efforts, we would not have such a wonderfully unique facility,” Jeff says.
The Forest Park Beach Bash will take place the weekend of July 27 and include activities for young and old alike.
To learn more about the Forest Park Beach Bash, visit cityoflakeforest.com.
—Ann Marie Scheidler