McKinley Beach

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McKinley Beach was constructed in 1989 and serves to not only provide a recreational resource along the lakefront but also function as a buffer between Lake Michigan and Lincoln Memorial Drive. Since its construction, the beach has experienced changing lake levels and site conditions. In August 2020, McKinley Beach was closed due to riptide hazards, several near drownings, and multiple fatal drowning incidents. Milwaukee County Parks takes park user safety very seriously and has considered what remedies to the site conditions are necessary in order to have a safe, active, and sustainable beach.


The County Board funded an effort to both study the conditions present at the beach as well as identify potential solutions that can increase swim safety while addressing beach sustainability and water quality. Initial findings have shown that water depth has increased at the jetty line by approximately 4’ since the creation of the beach. This increased depth as well as multiple wave current factors have created dangerous conditions that cannot be visually observed by swimmers. The planned solution restores McKinley Beach to its original intended design by re-nourishing the beach with sand, grading, and grooming. The planned solution will also effectively lower the water depth between the breakwaters to help reduce currents and create a shallower beach environment.


Construction activities were completed at the beach in summer and fall 2023 including the import of the sand needed for beach re-nourishment. In May 2024, the contractor completed final grading and restoration activities. McKinley Beach has been re-opened to the public for the 2024 season.


McKinley Beach was constructed in 1989 and serves to not only provide a recreational resource along the lakefront but also function as a buffer between Lake Michigan and Lincoln Memorial Drive. Since its construction, the beach has experienced changing lake levels and site conditions. In August 2020, McKinley Beach was closed due to riptide hazards, several near drownings, and multiple fatal drowning incidents. Milwaukee County Parks takes park user safety very seriously and has considered what remedies to the site conditions are necessary in order to have a safe, active, and sustainable beach.


The County Board funded an effort to both study the conditions present at the beach as well as identify potential solutions that can increase swim safety while addressing beach sustainability and water quality. Initial findings have shown that water depth has increased at the jetty line by approximately 4’ since the creation of the beach. This increased depth as well as multiple wave current factors have created dangerous conditions that cannot be visually observed by swimmers. The planned solution restores McKinley Beach to its original intended design by re-nourishing the beach with sand, grading, and grooming. The planned solution will also effectively lower the water depth between the breakwaters to help reduce currents and create a shallower beach environment.


Construction activities were completed at the beach in summer and fall 2023 including the import of the sand needed for beach re-nourishment. In May 2024, the contractor completed final grading and restoration activities. McKinley Beach has been re-opened to the public for the 2024 season.


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Page last updated: 20 Jun 2024, 03:52 PM