August 10, 2010

Racine's North Beach gets more national attention

Racine's North Beach is prominently featured in a national report on water quality at vacation beaches.

The National Resources Defense Council twice references North Beach as a model for other communities. It notes city efforts to transform the beach into a swimming area that was closed more than half the time into 2000 into a beach that is rarely closed. The change has had a major economic impact. Racine is now able to attract national events to its beach front that bring millions of dollars into the city. The report says:
Once water quality improved, summer weekday attendance at North Beach soared, increasing from an average of 126 people in 2005 to 641 people in 2008. Holiday and weekend visitors frequently numbered in the thousands. The increase in steady customers has resulted in the creation of a number small-business opportunities, such as cabana, beach chair, and kayak rentals.
The report also noted a stormwater treatment system in Racine that was instrumental in reducing pollution at North Beach. The report includes three pictures of a re-engineered stormwater outfall and says the system is "pleasing to the eye in addition to being a very effective means of improving beachwater quality."

The report lists other methods Racine used to control stormwater runoff including:

  • Development of a series of dune ridges to intercept stormwater from the parking area
  • Altered beach grooming to kill bacteria
  • Adding additional trash cans so garbage doesn't overflow and attract seagulls, which pollute the water with their poop
  • Solar-powered trash compactors
  • Enacting and ordinance and posting signs prohibiting the feeding of seagulls

Racine's inclusion in the NRDC's annual report is another coup for Racine's remarkable recovery of North Beach. It's another sign that communities around the world are looking at Racine as a success story for what can happen if you take care of a natural resource.

It's also further proof that North Beach is a remarkable treasure for the community, both for recreation and economic development.

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