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Doctors Park rehab begins with upcoming information sessions

Friends group wants to hear from community

The beach house at the bottom of the bluff, built in the 1930s as part of the New Deal and now closed.

The beach house at the bottom of the bluff, built in the 1930s as part of the New Deal and now closed. Photo By Pat Robinson

April 9, 2013

Fox Point - After all her time in Fox Point, Claudia Martin says she's still a California girl.

And when she walks down to the secluded beach at the bottom of the bluff at Doctors Park, she can close her eyes and be back.

"It's the only place I feel at home," Martin says.

Maureen Daly of Fox Point has a different take on the isolated stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline.

"You feel like you're up north," Daly says. "You feel like you're in the middle of no place."

If they have their way, it will only get better.

Daly, Martin, and a growing contingent of Fox Point and Bayside residents known as Doctors Park Friends are planning a number of improvements and fixes around the park, including a reconstruction of several trails and a potential rebuild and reboot of the now-shuttered beach house, a structure born of the 1930s and New Deal.

Doctors Park Friends is kicking off its effort with a series of informational meetings this month, as well as an upcoming cleanup day and an event in June, meant drum up interest throughout the community.

"More people are getting excited," Daly says. "There are a lot of people who care about this park."

Big ticket items

The master plan assembled by Doctors Park Friends and the centerpiece of their upcoming informational meetings, includes a number of ambitious projects. According to an assessment of the park included in the master plan, erosion threatens to claim several sections of the asphalt trail on the south side of the park, the beach house is in disrepair and needs renovation, the Lannon stone central staircase slants in several places due to erosion, and the handrails along the trails - several of which have large rusted nails jutting out of them - need repair or replacement. Doctors Park Friends is also suggesting landscaping to limit hikers' use of game trails, a common contributor to erosion, and plantings to stem the growth of invasion species like garlic mustard, buckthorn and black locust.

Their recommendations include beach house renovations which vary in the amount of construction and impact on the existing structure. All of the designs feature pergolas and planters meant to open up the floor plan and create a continuous indoor and outdoor space.

"It's a beautiful building, and a lovely asset," Daly says. "There's no reason we shouldn't be using it."

In planning a south trail rehab, Doctors Park Friends is taking cues from a recent restoration of a trail from Fox Lane to Beach Drive, which used a combination of large rocks, gravel and asphalt to channel runoff and prevent erosion. The project cost Fox Point about $80,000.

That restoration, along with the beach house, trails and signage updates, are likely more than the county parks system can afford within its capital budget, Daly says, meaning Doctors Park Friends will need to look for other sources of funding.

"To get any of the big stuff done will require private donations and grant support," says Daly, adding that while the county may not be able to fund the projects, "they want us to succeed. They want the same outcome."

Community input needed

By and large, the success of Doctors Park Friends and other volunteers will decide whether the park and its structures are revamped, or whether they will remain in their varying states of disrepair.

The pair of upcoming informational meetings, Daly says, signals the start of the projects laid out in the master plan. But before the group can begin, they need to know which projects the community wants to tackle first.

"Hopefully in the (informational) sessions we can get an idea of the community's priorities," Daly says. "This is a multiyear effort."

More information about Doctors Park, Doctors Park Friends, and their plan is available at doctorsparkfriends.org/wordpress.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Public information meetings on Doctors Park Friends Master Plan; clean up and weed out; Picnic in the Park community event

WHEN: Informational meetings at 7 p.m. April 18 and April 24; Clean up 9 a.m.-noon April 20; Picnic in the Park noon-4 p.m. June 23

WHERE: April 18, Fox Point Police Station, 7300 N. Santa Monica Blvd.; April 24, Bayside Village Hall, 9075 N. Regent Road; April 20, Doctors Park, intersection of Dean Road and Fox Lane; and June 23, Doctors Park

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