Park Avenue Boating Facility Breakwater and Boat Launch

The Park Avenue Boating Facility, located along the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline, serves as a vital hub for various water activities, including power boating, kayaking, sailing, paddleboarding, and more. It also offered boat launching and storage services. The facility faced severe damage to its breakwater wall and boat launch due to high lake levels and intense storms over the past decade. In response to this critical issue, the Park District embarked on a journey to repair and revitalize the facility.  Donated funding through the Parks Foundation of Highland Park – Park Avenue Fundraising Committee comprised of boaters and dedicated residents contributed $455,000 to fill the funding gap and ensure the successful renovation of the Park Avenue Boating Facility.

The Park District engaged with SmithGroup JJR in June 2018 to explore solutions, including repair, removal, and replacement of the barge breakwater. A Park Avenue Working Group, composed of various stakeholders, was formed to analyze the current conditions, and explore funding options for site improvements.

In April 2022, the Park Board approved Phase 1 of the Park Avenue Breakwater Project, with a budget of $2,221,890. Funding for Phase 1 included $2,000,000 from the Park District’s capital fund and $455,000 raised through community fundraising efforts by the Parks Foundation of Highland Park.   Construction began on September 6, 2022.

 Phase 2 of the project focused on creating ancillary items, including an ADA accessible floating dock, safety bollards, and lighting – all crucial for enhancing the safety and usability of the boat ramp. A Boat Access Area Development Grant from IDNR was secured for $200,000 to support this phase.

The Park Avenue renovation project exemplifies a successful collaboration between the Park District, the community, and various stakeholders. Through diligent fundraising efforts, grant applications, and community support, the facility was revitalized, providing residents and visitors with a safe and enjoyable environment for various water activities. The project’s completion symbolizes a commitment to preserving and enhancing a cherished recreational resource along the Illinois Lake Michigan shoreline.  The grand re-opening celebration took place on July 19, 2023, marking the successful completion of the breakwater and boat ramp renovation.