After a raft of claims that charging for beach access is racist, Evanston’s City Council voted Monday night to make access to all beaches free for residents on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays this summer.

Ald. Devon Reid (8th) had demanded the complete elimination of beach charges for residents. Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway said he wasn’t opposed to eliminating tokens, but that to do so immediately would blow a $1 million hole in the budget Council had adopted last fall. Reid offered no proposal for how to make up the lost funds this year.

The city in recent years has provided free beach access on Mondays at Clark Street Beach. Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) proposed a compromise that would make access free for residents at all beaches on Sundays and Mondays.

In the proposal finally adopted by the Council that was expanded to provide free access on Saturdays through Mondays.

No estimate was provided of the impact that proposal would have on city revenue.

While the beach token measure was promoted as a social justice issue, no effort was made to eliminate the discriminatory practice of charging non-residents for access the beaches.

The beaches are scheduled to open for the season on Saturday.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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