High lake levels and storms may have grounded Greenwood Street Beach, at least for this beach season. RoundTable photo

After receiving word federal funding wouldn’t be available, Evanston officials are looking at  other alternatives, including collaborating with Northwestern University, to repair some of the damages to the City’s shoreline from rising lake levels and storms this past winter, an official recently told the Evanston City Council.

In a report at the May 11 Council meeting, held remotely because of social distancing constraints, Interim City Manager Erika Storlie informed Council members that the City had received word that the City would not be receiving any federal funds to mitigate the damage that was caused by last winter’s storms, with Evanston as well as Chicago not meeting the initial threshold for the funds.

“It’s disappointing news, but it was worth a shot, and we’ll have to continue to move forward figuring out how to fund that out of our own limited reserves and other capital options,” Ms. Storlie said.

Ms. Storlie said she is in contact with various engineers working on the situation who are in contact with Northwestern, trying to see the most cost-effective ways to accomplish some of the work that needs to be done in the near term.

In the meantime, the City is moving forward on its beach season, with all City beaches except Greenwood Street Beach expected to be open this summer, she said.

“That is the one that has the most sustained damage, and it also has the least amount of sand available – it’s practically gone,” Ms. Storlie said. “So that’s disappointing, but the rest of the beaches we see opening, and we should be able to do the work that needs to be done after the beach season concludes in the fall. So if we can get any economies of scale by partnering with Northwestern on doing the work together, or any kind of savings, we’re going to explore that.”

Earlier this year, City Engineer Lara Biggs reported that during recent storms, high water levels have eroded the City’s beaches and caused significant damage to the revetment, the stone wall running along the shoreline.

Besides Greenwood Beach, officials identified Elliott Park South, the Dempster Street Beach, Garden Park North and Sheridan Road as areas of urgent need for flood protection or revetment work.

Bob Seidenberg is an award-winning reporter covering issues in Evanston for more than 30 years. He is a graduate of the Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism.