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.