RACINE — Soil dredged from Lake Michigan near the Racine Yacht Club will likely help create beach dunes at Samuel Myers Park.
The City Council on Tuesday approved a measure that opens the door for that to happen, as part of a larger restoration of the park.
The soil was dredged from water near the Racine Yacht Club, 1 Barker St., last October because of lowering water levels and sand migrating to the area from neighboring North Beach. Since then the soil has been stored on nearby city property, at 1129 Michigan Blvd., under the following agreement: The yacht club can store the soil there for free and the city can use it as needed for road and construction projects, said yacht club Commodore Charles Manning.
That agreement was set to end in about a month and the yacht club was going to have to move the soil elsewhere, Manning said. But the City Council on Tuesday approved extending the storage agreement by 45 days so the yacht club can donate the soil to the Racine Health Department for use at Samuel Myers Park.
The storage extension was needed because Health Department officials are not yet ready to use the yacht club’s about 5,000 cubic yards of dredged soil; they must first get a Department of Natural Resources exemption, which is required to use more than 3,000 cubic yards, said Julie Kinzelman, laboratory director for the Health Department.
Kinzelman applied for the exemption a few weeks ago and is waiting to hear from the DNR, she said.
The yacht club’s dredged soil would be used to make sand dunes that would run from Samuel Myers Park’s grassy area to a beach area, creating a more natural coastal habitat and protecting against pollution for swimmers, Kinzelman said.
“This material would be used as a base, (then) buried under other sand,” she said.
The work would be part of a much larger restoration project begun in May at Samuel Myers Park, which is along Lake Michigan just south of 11th Street.
The full restoration includes removing invasive plant species, adding native plant species and possibly creating walking trails and a boardwalk. The plant changes and addition of dunes should limit the amount of shore pollutants that run off into the water, which should make the area safe for swimming, Kinzelman said.
The removal of invasive plant species is underway with volunteer help, she said.
Samuel Myers Park was identified as an area to restore through a statewide beach research project started in 2010 and funded by a large Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant, Kinzelman said.
While the research was funded, Kinzelman is still trying to secure dollars for the restoration. It could cost up to $1.2 million, she said, and she has $100,000 so far from a separate Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Grant.
Using soil donated by the Racine Yacht Club “would help save costs,” she said.
Cara Spoto contributed to this report.