ROGERS PARK — The shipping container that will hold an array of paddle boards this summer was delivered Monday to Leone Beach Park.
Aussie-native Clinton Ind, an attorney living in Edgewater, said he would begin renting out stand=up paddle boards for the first time there this weekend.
It's the only recreational vendor of its kind on the neighborhood's low-key waterfront.
"I love paddle boarding," said the 38-year-old on the beach he'll spend most of his summer. "There's very few ways to escape the city. It's a real escape [out on the water]. It's the only place to get that without driving many miles."
Ben Woodard says neighbors considers this beach a hidden gem:
Ind said he got a three-year permit from the Chicago Park District to operate Leone and Loyola Beach SUP. Rentals begin Saturday, he said, for $25 an hour per board, or $40 for two boards.
Classes and other special events, like early-morning sunrise paddles, will be offered. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesdays-Fridays, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
Most of all, Ind said, his new company will give Rogers Parkers a chance to experience "pure peace and quiet" much farther out on the lake than lifeguards allow a board-less person to swim.
Craig Gernhardt, the vice president of the Leone Beach Park Advisory Council, said the new vendor would be exactly what park namesake Sam Leone would have wanted.
"This is what Leone Beach is all about," he said at the beach Monday.
This could be the beginning of some major changes at Leone Beach: The park district is planning a major overhaul of the park's field house and beachfront.
Preliminary plans revealed late last year touted a kayak launch, concessions and nature center.
The field house, a former pumping station built in 1889, has served as the home of Rogers Park's lifeguards since 1906. Leone, a former park supervisor, ran the Junior Lifeguard Program there for 40 years until his death in 1965.
But in the past 10 years, the lifeguard program has lost its luster.
Park advocates hope people like Ind, and the park district's renovation plans, could bring Leone Beach back to what it was.
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