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Are Evanston's Beach Fees Too High?

Some say it's worth the cost to pay lifeguards and keep the beaches clean, while others say any fee is too high, and access to the beaches should be free. Share your opinion and vote in our poll.

When we published ($8 for a single entry), readers had a lot to say. Some felt the cost of access was much too high, perhaps even unfair, while others believed the charge was justified. 

"Anything more than free is too high, seeing as how the beaches are essentially public domain, and how a staggering number of Evanstonians live at our below poverty level," reader Tracy Loland commented on Facebook. "We drive to Loyola Beach with our kids on a very regular basis--it's free and way more diverse than Evanston. And that's what I want our children to see."

Kevin Jones, who also commented on Facebook, took a different point of view.

"If there were no fee to go to the beach, then the cost of running the beaches would have to be paid for by higher taxes for Parks and Recreation," Jones wrote. "Then you'd have people who never go to the beach grousing about having to pay for something they never use. Perhaps a better balance could be found: lower the fee and raise the tax levy?"

While the single-day entry fee is $8, purchasing a beach pass is significantly cheaper if you plan to go many times, as several commenters pointed out. Season-long passes are $16 to $32 for residents and $28 to $56 for non-residents, depending on when they're bought. Some fee assistance is available for qualified residents, according to the city website

"$24 for residents before June 8! I think it's worth it," . "Much cleaner than Chicago beaches, bathrooms are closer, parking is easier."

Reader KatyC77 compared Evanston's beaches to national and state parks, many of which also charge entry fees.

"Members are offered a reduce rate compared to one-time users," . "With the privilege of living in a beautiful community comes the responsibility of caring for it, which costs money. We choose to live here."

While several readers said they preferred to head south to Chicago, where there is no entry fee for beaches, reader E. pointed out that those beaches aren't exactly "free," either.

"Their upkeep is paid for by taxes so the cost is distributed and indirect," 

Other readers said they feel they already pay too much in property taxes in Evanston, however, to pay more to go to the beach. 

"I think it is sad that Evanston residents have to pay to use their own beaches!" . "The amount of property taxes that my wife and I pay to live here should allow my family and I to enjoy our lakefront, but they're not. My family of five cannot afford eight dollars per person to go to the beach, nor the upfront cost of beach tokens for all of us. I truly feel that the Evanston beaches are for the wealthy residents only, which not only is a shame, but seems quite Un-American. If Chicago can afford to provide free beaches to its residents (and guests) so can Evanston."

What do you think? Cast your vote in our poll below and share your thoughts in the comments.

Sally July 25, 2012 at 08:32 PM
and neither would this ... http://evanston.patch.com/articles/lifeguard-rescues-toddler-at-lee-street-beach
Barbara Wolter July 25, 2012 at 09:16 PM
Any Evanston resident who pays property taxes should be able to use the beaches for free.
lucas July 25, 2012 at 09:30 PM
I agree. Those that don't goto beach get there City Sticker free.
Lightsleeper July 26, 2012 at 12:26 AM
We should absolutely socialize the beaches. Why *wouldn't* the majority who don't use them want to pay to subsidize the minority who do?
annie July 26, 2012 at 09:53 AM
I like the system in place now. While I think the fees are expensive for a daily pass, I do think that nothing is free. How would the city prove that someone pays property taxes? What about all the people who pay rent in Evanston? What about all the people who work in Evanston but don't live in Evanston? And where does the cutoff end? We had a boat long ago, would the boat ramp be "free" to people who pay taxes in Evanston? How about the sailing beach at Dempster? If we had no lifeguards how many drownings would happen on the Evanston beaches? (a lot)

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