Plans are underway to rebuild the shoreline from 45th to 51st St., and there will soon be a brief window for community feedback. The area is called Morgan Shoal by the city, and is fondly known by many as Pebble Beach. The Morgan Shoal is bedrock about 10 feet below water level, supporting diverse wildlife and strewn with artifacts from the shipwreck. A Chicago treasure, for certain.
Unfortunately, the city’s emergency response to a 2020 storm has effectively blocked access to the shoreline. The emergency repairs included rip-rap stone (impossible to walk over), a long stretch of large black sand bags, rubble mound, and enormous concrete blocks, which serve to block even the view of the lovely rocky beach. As the limestone revetment gradually wore down since 1931, the historic limestone blocks have eroded and tumbled in the waves, giving a feeling of the immensity of nature and created memories shared by many families who have enjoyed a secluded area full of discovery, playing around the big rocks, finding sea glass, swimming in the shallow water. The historic limestone blocks also bear hundreds of artistic carvings made by residents of our community, and provide the backdrop to unique egg-shaped rocks created by wave action on site from limestone, brick, asphalt, and even concrete.
In 2021 the Public Building Commission took on managing the rebuilding of the 45th to 51st street shoreline and they have stated that they will include community input. Several city departments, the US Army Corps of Engineers and chosen contractors are now moving toward the rebuild. In 2015 a plan was created with community input called the Morgan Shoal Framework Plan, however the current design has not been revealed and, to date, no input has been sought from the community. Since 2015. The community may be asking, how can we provide input on a plan we haven’t seen? There are many who feel that lake access should be respected at all stretches of the shoreline, and that equitable processes should be the norm, with the south side receiving equal resources in design and construction as the rest of the city.
We want the community’s voice and vision to be included in plans for the shorelines we frequent. We’d like to avoid losing access to our beaches and the shoreline and avoid disrupting the diverse life in and around the shoal.
The Advocates for Morgan Shoal invite you to join us on April 22, for Earth Day at 49th St., Pebble Beach from 10-4. We will create art from rocks and found objects, make a temporary entrance for better accessibility, build rock cairns, clean up the area and perhaps enjoy surprise visits from local celebrities and musicians. Please come by and check it out, say hello, share your vision, meet your neighbors, help clean up and enjoy entertainment.
Friends of the Parks is sponsoring cleanups at parks all over the city on that day, let’s show up for our natural areas in Hyde Park.
Save the date, April 22! Rain date April 23.
Advocates for Morgan Shoal, represented by Heather Dalmage, Joy Clendenning, Betsy Mensah
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