HUMBOLDT PARK — Humboldt Park lost its longstanding inland beach this summer, but the neighborhood could see a new and improved version return if neighborhood leaders have their way.
The goal now is to create a sustainable beach that is cost-effective and environmentally responsible, said Humboldt Park Advisory Council president Amy Vega. The beach won’t reopen in its previous form, but it could get a new lease on life in the form of a “natural pool” built with the beach and surrounding features in mind.
It won’t come without pressure on a local level, however. And that’s a process the committee is happy to take on after three months of community resistance to the decision to stop operating it.
City officials announced the closing of the 40-year-old beach with little-to-no notice in May, prompting a lambasting from Vega at a May 13 community meeting with Chicago Park District representatives, who cited a $1.6 million price tag to maintain the beach for 2015.
But the local president called a truce this week, and shared a new plan for Humboldt Park’s beach.
“The Humboldt Park Advisory Council is excited to be partners at what is the start of the next chapter of history making in Humboldt Park,” Vega said in an email, complete with an attached conceptual model for what the council and beach committee have in mind for Humboldt Park.
Early plans for the new model are based on concepts developed by BioNova Natural Swimming Pools — “constructed aquatic ecosystems consisting of a contained swimming area and one or more regeneration zones,” according to a brochure touting the pool’s ability to remain sustainable and safe for large-scale public swimming without the use of chemicals.
Graffiti from beach supporters. [DNAinfo/Darryl Holliday]
In fitting with the old beach’s reputation as a swimming hole for small children and families, the BioNova conceptual model allows for gradation and can be attached to a “kiddie pool” — the entire system is based on a natural waste management system that breaks down waste for consumption by water-based plants located in an adjacent “regeneration zone.”
“Our goal is to find the best possible options for a new and improved beach next summer,” Vega said, noting that dialogue and early stage planning is already underway to “aggressively push this project forward.”
There was no price tag attached to the plan.
In the meantime, Humboldt Park has an outdoor pool, a water playground and two spray features open for business within the park boundaries. The council and the Park District are also evaluating extending the park’s outdoor pool hours.
Since coming up against community pressure in recent weeks, the Park District’s Board of Commissioners have committed to doing something sustainable at the park — and Vega says Humboldt Park won't forget.
“The Advisory Council believes that it’s our responsibility to assist in efforts to ensure that the funds are there to push this project to completion,” she added.
For more neighborhood news, listen to DNAinfo Radio here: