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Shorewood gives go-ahead for Atwater beach playground

Bluff-side slide nixed; security fencing will be added

May 8, 2012

Shorewood - Friends of Atwater Beach are moving ahead with their plan to install playground equipment on Atwater Beach, but without the bluff-side slide that was originally envisioned.

The Village Board approved a donation from FAB of approximately $60,000 to cover the cost of equipment, installation and surfacing of the site. They also voted to authorize a $13,000 contract to install a security fence at the Atwater Beach Access Road, to function as an after-hours barrier.

Roger Miller of Miller Engineering conducted a study of the playground site, as commissioned by the Village Board in April, and recommended that the slide be shortened from 25 to 8 feet. FAB decided to scrap the slide, according to member Ann McKaig, because it would be redundant.

"We didn't want to duplicate anything that's already on the upper playground," McKaig said. "There's an 8-foot slide on the upper playground, so we don't need another one."

The donated funds will be used to purchase three pieces of playground equipment from Canadian manufacturer Elephant Play. The swing, climbing net, and merry-go-round will be installed by Play Focus Solutions. FAB is also looking into shading structures on the boardwalk.

Having spent nearly $1 million in 2011 to prevent bluff erosion, village trustees were worried that the increased traffic caused by the playground may contribute to further erosion.

Miller told them that by planting dune grass between the beach and the site of the playground and by creating a visible path through that grass, the potential erosion problem will be mitigated.

"It's headed in the right direction and is in the right place," Miller said.

Despite Miller's assurances, Trustee Ellen Eckman voted against the plan, saying she would like to see how the reconstructed bluff holds up against a full summer of use.

Throughout the discussion, Trustee Patrick Linnane reminded the board to be mindful of Atwater Beach's accessibility issues. McKaig said that FAB will look into making the playground American's with Disabilities Act accessible, though the beach itself currently is not.

The board wants the fence to be installed by early June; no date was set for the playground equipment installation.

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