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Humboldt Park Puts Protest Where its Beach Was

By Darryl Holliday | May 29, 2015 8:56am

HUMBOLDT PARK — The Humboldt Park Advisory Council is throwing its weight behind a plan to re-open the Humboldt Park beach through community protest this weekend.

Five hundred dollars was allotted Thursday night to materials and costs associated with efforts to save the beach in the ensuing weeks. That’s in addition to an advisory council-backed community sit-in set for Sunday, May 31 at Humboldt Park.

The $500 fund and a reaffirmed commitment came during Thursday night’s advisory council board meeting, where several issues, including preservation of the beach, were addressed.

The Chicago Park District has said it will not open the beach this year because it is too expensive.

(DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday)

A protest will be held Sunday from 1 p.m to 2 p.m. at the Humboldt Park beach, according to Morgan Halstead, one of the lead organizers behind the rally.

“We have no water yet, but this community is demanding our beach! Bring your towels, your toys and your voice,” an announcement for the event reads.

The announcement lists reasons for opening the beach: affordability and proximity for working-class families; a lack of swimming options for small children in the area; and the importance of the beach as an alternative to people illegally opening fire hydrants to cool off.

“You’re not just taking our beach, you’re taking away $1 million in funds. What I want to know is, where is that line item going? And why isn’t my beach worth that money?” advisory council president Amy Vega asked, echoing concerns of those present.

That million dollar price tag is a reference to a quote by Park District Director of Planning and Construction Rob Rejman, who said on May 11 that a $1 million maintenance fee and recent budget deficits were among the main reasons why the beach would not be filled for this year’s beach season.

While all other city beaches opened May 22, Chicago’s only inland beach has remained closed. The beach is a neighborhood 40-year-old institution that began with a push from the community.

“This is not only a Humboldt Park oasis, this is a Chicago oasis … so we’re going to, very positively, have a sit-in,” Halstead told the group of around 20 residents gathered for the board meeting. “Other [residents] have said we need to get louder, and I agree.”

The “Beach Blanket Sit In” committee will be joined by the Humboldt Park Advisory Council and a coalition of Humboldt Park residents, many of whom were on opposite sides of a fence just last week when community opinions split over the return of Riot Fest to Humboldt Park.

Saving the beach has brought even those disparate groups together for a single cause, for the moment at least.

“This board was informed [of the beach closure] the same time the whole world was informed,” Vega said, calling the decision “flippant” and “frustrating.”

“We support the cause because the [the decision to close the beach] is not acceptable,” she added. “Our intent is not to anger anybody. It’s to put them into action.”

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