Sunday, May 13, 2012

Humboldt Park Beach in Danger of Closing?

At the April HPAC meeting there were some concerned residents who attended to inquire about the status of the beach opening, because they had heard it was in danger of being closed for the season. In response to their concerns, Area Manager Cynthia Rosario, who is available at every HPAC meeting to address questions like this, gave the news that the City of Chicago is transferring the cost of running the water into the pond to the Park District and it is expected to cost upwards of $1 million to run throughout the season. Cynthia neither confirmed nor denied whether or not the Park District would be keeping the beach closed, and only offered the fact that there is a scheduled date for the opening. The only information available from the Park District's website is that the beach season starts on May 25.

To give some quick background, the swimming pond that serves the beach is filled by City of Chicago water (essentially tap water) treated with chemicals for sanitary purposes. The quality of the water is checked on a regular basis to ensure that it is safe for swimming. Water is constantly flowing in on one side and out through a drain on the other to keep it flowing and clean. This is different from the other bodies of water in the park, like the lagoon, which are standing bodies fed by rainwater or non-City sources.

As many of you may know, last year the City Council approved Mayor Emanuel's plan to raise water rates by 70% over the next five years with the intended purpose of replacing outdated water and sewer infrastructure. Although the HPAC hasn't received any official statements from Park District staff or the City of Chicago, it is probably safe to assume that the City's decision to transfer the cost of the beach to the Park District is related to the City's plan for more strict water billing enforcement, which has also affected suburban governments, churches and non-profits.

Park services and facilities face constant threats due to the City's financial difficulties and the loss of tax revenue to its many TIF districts. One of the results of this is a greater need for concerned citizens to raise their voices to receive the sorts of services they have come to expect. A group of Humboldt Park residents is starting a group to lobby the Park District and City government to keep the beach open. Save the Humboldt Park Beach can be found on facebook, where they have news on this issue and resources like a form letter to send to Park Superintendent, Mike Kelly, and a link to an online petition. Please get in touch with them if you support this cause.


  1. Very thorough explanation! Thank you!

  2. I received an email from the Alderman's office yesterday explaining that the beach would open this summer due in part to the pressure the community put on the park district. Great job organizing and working on behalf of the community!