A new rock wall will be installed at Veterans Memorial Park beach to stop erosion in the area.

A new rock wall will be installed at Veterans Memorial Park beach to stop erosion in the area.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske


Project to rehabilitate Veterans Memorial Beach approved

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published March 7, 2021

 A wall will be built to hold back Lake St. Clair west of the area marked by a stake.

A wall will be built to hold back Lake St. Clair west of the area marked by a stake.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

 City officials said 90 feet of beach has been eroded over the past 20 years.

City officials said 90 feet of beach has been eroded over the past 20 years.

Photo by Kristyne E. Demske

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ST. CLAIR SHORES — In the past 20 years, erosion has caused the loss of 90 feet of beachfront at Veterans Memorial Park.

That sobering fact has led to City Council granting approval for a $40,000 project to hold back the water using 900-pound limestone rocks.

“We’ve experienced significant erosion at Veterans Memorial beach,” said Assistant City Manager William Gambill. “With the recent high water in 2019, we saw further erosion.”

Concrete cloth was installed to prevent the tree at the north end of the beach from falling into Lake St. Clair at that time, but the city then began discussions with Environmental Consulting and Technology to find a temporary solution to prevent the further erosion of the beach.

A rock wall consisting of 24-inch limestone rocks weighing more than 900 pounds each will be constructed west of the ordinary high-water mark as indicated by the Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy, or EGLE, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The current water level is below the ordinary high-water mark, Gambill said, and constructing the wall west of the mark means the city won’t need to get permits from EGLE or the Army Corps. Working in the water is also much more expensive.

He said the wall will have a cleaner look than the current riprap on the remaining shoreline in the park, and it will be more stable.

“We’re trying to get it where we have the standard cut of rock and people can step down from there to go in when the water is lower. Above that, we can do some sand replenishment,” he explained.

A gravel base will prevent the rock from sinking and shifting, said Patrick Judd with ECT at the March 1 City Council meeting.

The work would be performed by Landscape Services, with which the city has an existing purchase order for flood control labor and equipment rental. City Council authorized up to $40,409 for the work, which includes $5,000 for additional structural support, if needed.

ECT also recommended adding two, three-quarter-inch core drillings in each limestone to add two, half-inch rebar pilings per limestone rock for additional support. No decision has been made yet whether the rebar will be added or not.

The main goal of the project was to stop the erosion that was occurring at an increasingly quick pace.

“It was getting very close to the path last year,” Gambill said. “It’s eroded to the point that any sand that was there, during a storm, gets washed into the lake.”

Right now, the area is a mix of sand and grass, but St. Clair Shores wants to bring the “beach feel” back to the area.

Mayor Kip Walby said the city would be able to move the rock farther out into the lake if the water continues to recede.

“Our goal is to get back to where we were 20 years ago,” City Manager Matthew Coppler said.

The ordinary high water mark changes, Gambill said, so if it moves away from the shoreline in the future, the wall can be moved.

“The whole idea of this (is) to set something up, short-term, to protect the path and ... in the future, if possible, to reclaim what used to be the beach. We’re not building it up too much where it will be difficult to move in the future,” he said.

Extending the beach back out toward Lake St. Clair may also help with water-quality issues if the water flow can be improved.

Judd said that Great Lakes water level forecasts show the water level beginning to recede over the next six to nine months.

“It’s a long-term, temporary, solution,” he told City Council. “Whatever the permanent solution is, you can reuse this material for other parts of a retaining wall.”

“We’re trying to do the lowest-cost solution we can, right now, to stop the water from reaching that point ... to where we now have the beach protected that we want to have protected,” Coppler added.

The motion passed City Council with a vote of 6-0.

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