Expansive Boardwalk proposed for Edgewater lakefront
An Edgewater resident envisions bringing back the glory days of a boardwalk to the lakefront, something that the neighborhood hasn’t seen since the days of the Edgewater Beach Hotel prior to Lakeshore Drive being expanded in 1951. The Edgewater Beach Hotel, which first opened in 1916, once enjoyed an expansive “Beachwalk” and was a destination point for people from all over during its hay day.
Morry Matson, who resides just blocks from the Lake on Rosemont Avenue, chairs the Edgewater Beachwalk Proposal Committee, which developed the framework for a plan to construct a concrete boardwalk, modeled after the Virginia Beach Boardwalk in Virginia, spanning from Osterman Beach north to Devon Avenue. The throughway, which would connect the beaches and three lakefront parks in the area would also feature a separate asphalt bike path, and handicapped landscaped median with lighting and inset rest intervals. More information, maps and diagrams can be found on the group’s website here.
“It’s a part of the neighborhood’s history and heritage,” Matson explained. “It’s been done before and we want to do it again.”
Not only would Matson’s proposal create a usable boardwalk for residents to enjoy the lakefront, but it has many other benefits to the community as well. First, such an attraction would attract more traffic for local businesses. It would also provide a much needed connector for bicyclists north to Devon and Loyola University, taking some of the congestion off of Sheridan Road, which often has a problem of cyclists riding on the sidewalk. Also, it would give emergency vehicles such as fire trucks and ambulances a way to access the high rises and beaches east of the high rises.
But, with a $200 million price tag, based on the cost of the Virginia Beach project in 1988 (adjusted for inflation), Matson realizes such a vision will be an uphill battle. How would such a project be funded? According to Matson, equally between local property owners, the City, State, and Federal governments. Also important to note, according to Matson, the Mayor has already set aside about $4 million of City funds to expand the bike path from Ardmore to Thorndale.
To push his proposal, Matson has been hitting the streets presenting his ideas to local elected officials, community groups, and has been collecting signatures both on paper and online to gain support. While there are still plenty of details to work out, the idea has been very well received he says, and he has already collected 500 signatures from supporters. Individuals wanting to sign the online petition can do so here, or you can sign the street petition or hear more of his vision at local events such as EdgeFest, GRalley, an ice cream social at Berger Park on July 27th, and St Gertrude’s annual festival.