An interesting development on the Lake Michigan shoreline adjacent to the Baha’i Temple at Wilmette is presenting a challenge to the Wilmette Park District and the Baha’is of the United States.
Over the past 40 years what used to be merely a thin sandy beachfront has grown to become about two acres of land. That’s large enough to fit two football fields or more than 87,000 square feet.
The issue hinges on whether the new land was created as a result of natural processes or whether it was man-made. If it is deemed to be natural, then the Baha’is will continue to have ownership of it. If it is shown to be a result of artificial origin, then the it will default to the state of Illinois.
To view a larger aerial view of the area with the disputed lakefront area marked by a red rectangle, click the image below:
What complicates the situation further is that the Army Corps of Engineers dredged up sand from the lake and deposited on the south beach in 1976 and 1978 with the express purpose of expanding the beach area. Another similar project was done in 1980.
The size and location of the new real estate makes it very valuable. Especially as a de facto expansion of the Sheridan Shores Yacht Club. There has been no official move by the Wilmette Park District to claim ownership. That would most probably begin a lengthy legal dispute.
For more information, see this recent Chicago Tribune article.