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Mount Pleasant has conceptual plans for emergency stabilization of the bluff along the Lake Michigan shoreline and may use some recently borrowed funds for the $650,000 to $1.2 million project.

The village contracted with Terracon, an engineering firm, in June to study the erosion that is threatening homes and how to improve the public infrastructure along Mount PLeasant’s shoreline. They recently submitted a report offering conceptual plans for stabilizing the rapidly eroding bluffs.

Private Property Left Out

Mount Pleasant cannot work on projects located on private property. They have to focus public money on protecting public infrastructure. The Terracon report proposes a stabilization project that will help protect 750 feet shoreline from Graceland Avenue to Lake Park.

There is other village land near the former Case plant that is eroding. But no public infrastructure is in danger, so this plan will not tackle that area.

“We would like to get this going before the end of the year,” said Public Works Manager Steve Houte “That means getting construction (started in) November, December, before the winter storms hit, that would be the ideal.”

This is not a permanent fix. The village is still counting on the Army Corps of Engineers to design and implement a long-term solution to the eroding bluffs.

Bluff Stabilization Costly

The estimated cost for stabilization efforts is $650,000 to $1.2 million. The cost is dependent on the type of the stone and fill the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will permit for the project.

“If the DNR says ‘no you can’t use rubble you have to use a virgin material,’” the project will cost somewhere near $1.2 million, Houte said. Because the DNR has recognized the emergency status of the erosion and permitted local residents to use concrete rubble, he hopes they will do the same for the village.

“Until we start doing the permitting process, which is in the design process, we won’t know if it’s gonna be allowable material to be placed,” he said.

Sonny Havn, village trustee and chair of the stormwater drainage commission, said the project cost was an “ugly number,” but it was better than what he expected.

Financing Options For Bluff Stabilization Discussed

The village doesn’t have those funds in the budget. Houte, noting the urgency of the problem, proposed that the village use some of the money the village recently borrowed for roads on the project. The village recently borrowed $9.16 million for roads and a new fire truck.

The reality is the bluffs are slipping away into the lake every minute. And until something is done, “Erosion is going to continue,” Houte said.

“I’m proposing… We secure some of those funds from the roads to pay for the shoreline protection as a borrow from the roads, to get this completed,” He said. “And then get this money reimbursed to roads in the next budget cycle.”

Havn said this item will be on the agenda for the next scheduled village board meeting, if not before then.


Denise Lockwood has an extensive background in traditional and non-traditional media. She has written for, the Milwaukee Business Journal, Milwaukee Magazine and the Kenosha News.