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Activists To Hold 'Beach Blanket Sit-In' To Save Humboldt Park Beach

By Rachel Cromidas in News on May 28, 2015 3:15PM

Photo credit: Susanne Peters

Fans of Humboldt Park's now-empty lagoon are gearing up for a fight with the Chicago Park District to save it and its surrounding beach—with beach gear.

The city's beach season unofficially began last weekend, with almost every Chicago lakefront area opening for Memorial Day Weekend revelers except Humboldt Park.

That has prompted activists to call for a "beach blanket" sit-in at Humboldt Park Beach on Sunday afternoon in protest of the Park District's decision to keep the area closed this year and leave the manmade lagoon empty of water.

Officials have said that filling the lagoon is expensive and bad for the environment. The Park District has suggested that area residents be content with the nearby public Humboldt Park Pool, but activists say it's a poor substitution.

The pool, they reason, does not have a shallow end for children and has a limit to the number of swimmers who can use it at any one time. They also noted that the lagoon's absence could have an unintended consequence: more illegally-opened fire hydrants that waste water.

"For 40 years, Humboldt Park Beach has served as one of our neighborhood's best summer resources," a statement on the sit-in's Facebook event page reads. "For many families, a $12 trip to Lake Michigan on public transit, at least 40 minutes each way by bus, isn’t a realistic option. "

Over 200 Facebook users had RSVP'd for the event by Thursday morning, which urges them to bring beach towels and toys.

Residents have been lobbying the Park District to keep the beach open since earlier this month, when officials announced they were not planning to reopen the beach this year at a town hall meeting. An online petition to save the beach has nearly 1,800 signatures, and the founders of Riot Fest even offered to pitch-in $30,000 toward keeping the beach open before they moved the music festival to Douglas Park.

Park District officials have said they would like residents to come up with a workable alternative to reopening the lagoon, rather than try to raise the estimated $1 million a year it would cost.