Hidden Beach: it’s not the buckthorn, it’s the thorny culture clash

Unwittingly, the railroads created a buffer between the residents and recreational users. While jealously guarding their tracks and shops, the railroad displayed a laissez-faire attitude along the northeast shoreline. Squatters’ shacks lined the northern shore until the ’60s, and the highland was known as "Bum’s Ridge."

Over the last 20 years, a dramatic shift has occurred. The railroad tore up most of their infrastructure. CLPA spearheaded a drive to create the world-renowned Cedar Lake Trail. As a consequence, the Cedar Lake area has become an ever-more exciting and coveted place to live.

Concurrently, recreational activity has increased. Most of these are peace-loving people who just want to soak up the natural atmosphere. Some are revelers who, with proper education (both by police and conscientious citizens), can be socialized to use the place respectfully. And some are dirtbags who break bottles and urinate in our neighbors’ gardens and need to be busted.

Friction boiled over last summer due to the never-ending heat and large crowds seeking relief day and night. Locals were outraged by the noise, the trash, and the vandalism. These actions are unjustifiable and regrettable.

But they are not viable reasons for radically changing the paradigm.

While we acknowledge the beauty and functionality of the rest of the Chain of Lakes, we respectfully advocate a different vision for Cedar Lake. CLPA seeks to nurture nature and embrace the cultural diversity and friendly social exchanges so long a part of Hidden Beach’s heritage.

CLPA has consistently advocated Cedar Lake as a place to go to, not walk around. Instead of a concentric asphalt roads, we encourage bike/pedestrian corridors with lake access points.

Through donations of money and time, thousands of wildflowers and hundreds of trees have been planted in the prairie and woods.

Are there special challenges to such a vision? Certainly. Does this abrogate the need to provide security for the people who come to the park? Of course not.

With the leadership of the Park Board, law enforcement and the participation of the long-time users and Cedar Lake lovers of all ages, we can continue to create, nurture and enjoy the special character of the area that has enriched our lives. How often I hear a bicyclist or jogger stop by the Cedar Lake trail water pump and exclaim, "I can’t believe such a jewel exists in the heart of the city."

Hopefully this will explain the "hidden agenda" of the Cedar Lake Park Association. This agenda has been part of our master plan for more than six years and has fueled the vision advocated in our newsletter since our group was founded over 13 years ago.

If you would like a copy of our master plan or receive our newsletter, just let us know. You can reach us on the web at www.cedarlakepark.org or call 377-9522.

Neil Trembley Secretary, Cedar Lake Park Association