MOUNT PLEASANT — It took nearly three years to complete, but now the village and residents of its Lake Park neighborhood can breathe a sigh of relief: For the moment, the bluff erosion is stabilized.
On Monday, Village Engineer Tony Beyer reported to the Village Board on the completion of the work done along a portion of Lake Michigan shoreline that has experienced major erosion. The project, to secure the Lake Park area from roughly Bryn Mawr Avenue and Graceland Avenue, cost about $1.2 million
Starting in 2015, Beyer said, Lake Michigan had a “significant spike” of water levels of about 4 to 5 feet, and the water has continued to maintain that level.
Beyer said property owners who once had several dozen feet of space between the bluff and their home realized that land was sinking into the lake at an alarming rate.
“The bluff becomes very susceptible to wave action, storm surge, and subsequently causes a myriad of erosion issues up and down the shore,” Beyer said.
The erosion also threatened village streets and infrastructure. In 2015, the village began getting calls from concerned residents.
Beyer gave the example of a resident who began experiencing bluff erosion in 2015 and had about 20 feet of space between their home and the edge of the bluff. Nine months later, the land had completely eroded to the foundation of their home and it had to be demolished.
“Over the last four years or so, properties in some cases have lost anywhere from 20 to 30 feet of bluff a year,” Beyer said.
In 2016, Racine County donated roughly $50,000 of concrete to assist residents with emergency stabilization.
“It essentially involved dumping of this rubble along the bluff fronts on the properties,” Beyer said.
Village officials were hoping the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would help, but Beyer said the Corps wanted to do a study of the entire Racine County shoreline, which would take two to three years to complete.
“Our first effort was to try to work with the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers to try to get a joint project together that would allow for some federal funding,” Beyer said. “In the end it didn’t work out after many months of trying.”
Eventually, the village moved on to private contractors with the help of Terracon, an engineering consulting agency based in Franklin.
Beyer said larger, heavier stones were placed at the base of the slope to help secure the land and to help minimize damage done by the water. Progressively medium and smaller stones were placed along the shoreline going up toward the properties.
The village also had grass planted, which officials expect to fully grow in by spring.
Village trustees praised the work done by Beyer and his staff. Village President Dave DeGroot said “the residents feel much better now.”