The City of Evanston is offering teenagers free 10-punch passes for admission to the city’s beaches this summer, as part of the mayor’s safe summer initiative promoting safe and fun activities for Evanston teens.

The passes are valid for entry to any of Evanston’s five public swimming beaches through Labor Day. Use is limited to the passholder.

Starting tomorrow, Evanston youth age 13 to 18 years of age may pick up a pass Monday through Friday during office hours at any of four locations — the Robert Crown Community Center at 1701 Main St., the Chandler-Newberger Community Center at 1028 Central St., the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center at 1655 Foster St. and The Loft at the Main Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

Proof of Evanston residency is required, such as a school ID, library card or driver’s license. To learn the office hour schedule for any of the locations, call 311.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Where’s My Free Beach Pass?

    I pay for the Evanston beach pass to avoid trouble-making teenagers. 

    1. Really?

      Go somewhere else then. Evanston Township High School has about 3000 students. You'll never get away from teens. Get over yourself, honestly… I'm guessing you hated yourself when you were a teen as much as much as you hate us now, right? Or maybe you were perfect. Oh, and if all of us got beach passes, then what would you do? We are going to be just as "trouble-making" whether or not the beach passes are free… Maybe we are doing it just to get on your case.

  2. This is a great idea to keep

    this is a great idea to keep kids busy and safe.

    I just wish this information would have been given out before I shelled out $26 per kid for passes by the June 10 deadline.

  3. The city should have offered

    the city should have offered this punchcard before the deadline to purchase beach passes without extra fees .

  4. I want one too!!

    I completely hate the free beach pass idea.  If I can't afford something, then I go without (and yes, I personally have known what it's like to have practically no money, so I know whence I speak).

    A better idea may have been to offer beach passes in return for these teens actually doing something, like clearing rubbish from the beaches, or some other service to the city.  I don't like the "free" idea.

  5. Thanks, Mayor

    Can we assume the mayor will be picking up the cost of these passes?  NO?   Who's paying for them, then? 

    It's the taxpayers who foot the bill for the freebies [as usual], while the mayor gets the credit for her "Special little feel-good program" that does nothing to improve the city, or bring business in, or provide relief for the taxpayers…  it gives a bunch of unemployed teens another place to congregate, unsupervised and raise a potential of damage and harm to the people who HAVE PAID for those passes.

    Here's an idea for keeping the kids busy, out of trouble and giving them something to do: Do 2 hours of work for each "punch" on that 10-punch Free Pass.  Give them a broom and start at one end of downtown and work to the other.  Pick up trash along the lakefront, or better yet- in the parks or along the canal walking path. Make them EARN it, and they might have a little respect for it.

    Nah- what am I thinking…  teach responsibility? Teach them value for services?  Not in the People's Republik.


    1. Costs vs Fee income

      The cost of keeping the beaches open has very little to do with how many individuals use the beaches: the staff is there whether people use them or not, the cleaning happens whether people go or not;.  It's possible that another lifeguard may be added if there is a crowd, but typically these lifeguards come from a pool of people who are already being paid.  The only specific cost I can think of that might increase is the need for garbage removal, which would need a significant increase in beachgoers to increase in any measurable way.  I think this punch-card program is unlikely to add any additional cost to taxpayers, even if it adds people to the beaches.

      As for the people who are disappointed that they already bought beach tokens: I don't think this program is intended to serve you.  The intent of this program is to offer access to youth who previously were unable to go to the beach.  Rather than some complex and costly system of verifying need (which implies that the only indicator of need is income, not always the case,) this system simply works under the assumption that people who are able to buy beach tokens for their youth would have done so by the deadline.  

      One concern: Will this program continue next year?  In that case, are parents going to wait to purchase a beach token in the hopes that this program will continue?  What happens then?

      1. You should work for the city?

        Michele states

        "The cost of keeping the beaches open has very little to do with how many individuals use the beaches"

        I am confused the city uses the revenue from beach token sales to off set the operation of the beaches. If the city continues to provide free tokens and passes they are losing revenue.

        The city already gives out over a thousand free beach tokens to social services agencies to give out, interestingly this program is not monitor as to who gets the tokens. It does not appear income related but related to the users of the agencies.  Who created the program – the Mayor,  Now she comes up with this program.  Since this is open to all, it clearly will cut into the sales of tokens. Is this the best idea she came up with from her Safety summit?

        Any one remember the screw up with the yard waste sticker sales and the under sale by $700,000. Who is going to be making this mess up? The taxpayers!

        Get the feeling we are headed in the red more.  Maybe next year Wally will have to close a beach, since he wouldn't have enough revenue to operate it?  Or he sell it to NU. along with the lighthouse.

  6. So glad I just shelled out the money

    to buy my three teens beach passes.  Refunds, Mayor?

  7. Punches

    10 punches on the beach card will turn our lawless youth around like 10 punches on the ballot card will turn this flailing city around.

    Evanston, IL…On the cutting edge of civil leadership.

  8. Free beach passes for teens?

    Free beach passes for teens? Aren't all the problems and closures and flash mobs and beatings at Chicago public beaches committed by teens? Here we go e-town! Great idea. Good Luck everybody.

  9. Way to stick it to those of us who pay

    I too bought tokens before June 11, the date after which the price per token rose. And then this announcement comes out after that date. Since my kids probably go to the beach fewer than ten times per summer, I probably would have bought fewer tokens had I known about these supposedly "free" passes. Which leads me to believe the timing of this announcement wasn't accidental.

    Way to stick it to those of us who pay full price, Evanston City Council.

  10. Cranky much?

    Every beach in Chicago is absolutely free for every child, senior, family or teenager, so the thought that "free" equals crime or bad behavior is just silly.  Chicago understands that giving youth a place to go, visit with friends, swim, and play games keeps young people active and busy.

    Only in Evanston would recreation and access to the public's lakeshore be considered a privileged and worthy of denial to young people.  The ten punch card is a great idea, and only available if the teen has Evanston ID.  It means that a young person can plan to go to the beach one day each weekend over the summer, after summer school or work.  The assumption that teens who would use this card would not be working or studying or volunteering or caring for younger siblings, sounds mighty judgmental to me.

    My teen will be using her babysitting money to buy her own clothes and shoes for school next year.  She needs a new swimsuit as well, having grown out of last year's outfit.  Most of Evanston's teenagers, like most of all teenagers, are responsible citizens and they deserve your respect because they are your neighbors, your grandchildren, and the people who dip your summer ice cream cone.

    1. Not cranky

      Not "silly" when you consider the past few years of violence at Chicago beaches perpetrated by groups of teens.  There is no denial to anyone to Evanston beaches.  There is only a fee for it's use.  And one can argue that the fee keeps out the troublemakers.  If someone does not want to pay for beach access in Evanston, Chicago's beaches are easily accessible.

    2. agree

      I agree.  

      With so much hostility, we wonder why kids feel the need to rebel.  Why so much anger that the kids have a place to spend some free time if they have it?  

      In California, you have a constitutional right to free public beach access (not everywhere — there are private beaches, but there has to be SOME public access every so many miles).  Everyone should have access to the ocean and here, to the lake.  

      Please try to remember that these kids are human beings.  And going through lots of life changes that are difficult.  Try some compassion.  Remember when you were young?  

      1. Hostility?

        I don't think anyone has a problem with any teenagers as much as they have a problem with the mayor's feeble attempts to hide her efforts of curtailing teen violence behind a free beach pass.

        Where has anyone stated they have any trouble with teens?  The majority of the teens taking advantage of this offer are not the ones who are in need of any social direction.  And if any problematic teens decide to take advantage of this program, what are the chances of them turning their lives around because they got a free beach pass?

        No one is arguing that teens aren't human beings.  And no one is even discussing the changes they are going through.  But since you brought it up, what exactly is a free beach pass going to do to address these "life changes" you mention?  This is a pathetic program that seeks to avoid any real solution of addressing the recent and growing incidents of teen violence in this town.


        1. trouble with teens

          Why did I think anyone was talking about having trouble with teenagers?  Anonymous (Not Cranky) implies that violence will follow teens to the beach; Anonymous (free beach passes for teens?) says that ALL the violence and flash mobs at Chicago beaches are caused by teens; Charon suggests the teens should work for the passes (not a bad idea actually), but lots of them work hard already; and Kit S continues to hate all skateboarders and make snide comments about them every chance he or she gets.

          I'm talking about a legitimate place to hang out other than inside with their friends.  Inside, in the summer, and in the hours between 3 and 6 pm during the school year are when lots of teens try drugs for the first time and when lots of teen girls become pregnant.  Yes, if kids want to use drugs and have sex, they will find a place but for younger teens an option to hang out and have fun may have a positive effect on them.

          Is it "enough"?  no.  Is it a start.  Yes.

          1. Why the beach?

            This whole program began because the community and mayor were looking for ideas to quell the violence that is happening among teens.  My implication was based on this.  However, you inferred that the violence would follow the teens.  Since when does finding something for teens do to have to equal free beach access?  And please, drop the guilt trip that no beach access will amount to rampant drug use among teens (your implication).  As others pointed out there are plenty of other options and God forbid actual community service that teens can participate in.  Other towns should be so lucky to have this problem with beach access.

          2. I will give you the fact that

            I will give you the fact that Anonymous did say ALL flash mobs etc; but snide comments do not equal teenage hate.  And does anyone who hates teens simply because they are teens really have a valid argument? Skateboard disdain = I hate all teens?  C'mon. 

            The point I am trying to make, and the one I am taking from the comments is that this is a foolish program.  Who is helping these kids correlate that the beach is better than causing mischief, getting stoned and getting laid? If this was truly thought out and not a last ditch, half-handed effort, then why wasn't it introduced before beach passes went on sale?  Aren't 12 year olds in danger of falling into trouble?  What about 19 year olds?  Is there an educational aspect of this program?  Is there any anti-violence/drugs/sex literature being handed out with this punch card?  Why aren't recipients made to sit thru a seminar or educational session to obtain their passes?

            This is a very  weak start – and what it is a start of, I do not understand.  You are right, kids who use drugs and have sex will do so at will – and a free beach pass will do nothing to stop them. 

  11. Teens do need a place to hang out

    Having two boys who are working all summer for the city of Evanston camps (one Ecology and the other Chandler), I am amazed by how much hostility these kids face from people just like the ones posting on this website.

    Both of my boys are honor roll students who drive and have access to a car. My older one has been harassed by the police several times asked to pull over and searched for no apparent reason! If they hang out downtown and see friends unexpectedly the police come and harass them for id and ask them what they're doing?

    If they have a party at someone's house the police are there in no time because the neighbors heard music and see them sitting outside talking on the grass.

    At least they can go to the beach without being hassled by cops and take a swim and play volleyball or whatever they want! Don't assume that teenagers are up to no good~ It just might be that they need a place to be with their friends that doesn't involve being strip searched! 

  12. When did teenagers turn into our enemies?

    I'm shocked at the tone of many of these posts which seem to assume that all teens are trouble-makers or that all low-income people are bad and/or lazy.  When did Evanston turn into such a mean-spirited place?  And those teens (who are pretty interesting if you talk with them) used to be adorable children — and our people we should be encouraging to turn into engaged adults.


    If you would like to avoid teenagers, maybe you should move to a senior community in Arizona.

  13. 25 Bucks

    Isn't the cost of a summer beach pass only about $25?  Is it too much to ask for these teenagers or their parents scrape together $25?

    The whole point of charging money for beach access is to reduce the number of users so that those who do use the beach have a better experience.  Now that's all down the drain.

    Foster street beach is a short drive or train ride away and these teens could easily have gone there.  I fail to see why this was necessary.

    1. Wanna buy tokens for me?

      Only $25? Apparently you aren't unemployed or struggling to make ends meet and raising kids. For some of us that $25 has to be saved to pay for school fees, clothes, doctor visits or any of the dozens of other expenses that come with caring for our families. We can't afford to pay for luxuries like visits to the beach. 

      Please don't say "Why don't your kids get jobs?" Have you tried finding a summer job for a high school kid? Yes, some do get jobs working for the City. But plenty of others are left trying to find some kind of gainful employment (as are their parents). 

      It's a tough economy out there. How about a bit of compassion for those who are struggling to make ends meet?

      1. No thanks

        No, I'd rather not buy any tokens for you. I'd prefer that you buy your own tokens. 

        I remain unconvinced that $25 is a lot of money, even for a poorer family.  I can guarantee you that the monthly ledgers of such families are filled with expenditures of that dollar amount for completely unessential goods and services, or purchases of luxury goods and services that could have been replaced with generic or otherwise less-expensive equivalents.

        And if you really can't afford to buy tokens, then you can go to Foster Street Beach or use the free parks adjacent to the beach.  I LIKE the exclusivity of the Evanston Beaches and those of the North Shore.  I support the concept of making people pay to use the beach, charging exorbitant fees for daily use, and jacking up the cost to nonresidents.  That's what keeps the beaches quiet and pleasant. 

        I get a big smile on my face when an out of town family walks up to the beach on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, finds out it will cost them $32 to use the beach, and walks away in disgust.  That's the way it's supposed to work!

        1. Quiet and pleasant? That’s a laugh.

          The last time I went to an Evanston beach I spent the entire afternoon listening to the lifeguard yelling "PLEASE GET OFF THE ROCKS" over his megaphone at people trying to sneak in for free by climbing over the rock barrier between the park and the beach. I felt like I was sunbathing on the US/Mexico border.

          Just let people use the beach for pete's sake. Then we will have real peace and quiet–or at least as much as you will ever get with Yuppie spawn running about and screaming while their parents do nothing to control them. But then, maybe they will stop coming when the riffraff shows up.

        2. Welcome to Evanston – NOT

          I'm so pleased that we can keep the beaches free of impoverished riff-raff for you. It's nice that wealthy Evanstonians have access to the beach and the rest of us (who live here and pay property taxes) have to go to Chicago to use the free beaches.

          We love sitting on the free parkways watching you enjoying your day on the beach, like peasants watching the nobles have banquets. Yup, let us eat cake.

  14. My teen spends a lot of time

    My teen spends a lot of time on the beach in summer hanging out with friends.  He's always grabbing our set of family tokens so friends without them can join the group.

    I told him about the newly announced free punch card and he plans to head on over to Chandler (which by the way we hope will not be closed, given its wonderful youth programs) and get one, and tell his friends to do the same.

    These are exemplary young people, who have worked incredibly hard all year, are continuing to work in summer, and just want some down time to enjoy the too-short summer weeks on our beautiful lake shore with friends.  Where else can they go, for free, without being hassled?  There's so much beach!   We think it's a great program.  We think children under 13 should be free, too!  Perhaps charge adults a little more for tokens, with free tokens for all kids under 18.  

  15. Teen Beach- SPF 13-18

    In theory, the mayor's beach party sounds great. However, in practice I am sure it's going to create problems (noise, disturbances, disorderly conduct, etc.). Allow them the free passes, but limit access to only one beach, such as Clark Street due to it's overall size. This way the kids are at the beach, but contained in one area. If you don't like the teen crowd, then go to another location.

    1. Have you ever been to a beach

      Have you ever been to a beach in Evanston? They are already full of a mix of families, adults, and, yes, teens. Would you suggest banning the young adults whose families have paid $25 for a token as well?

      1. I agree, Kurt.

        It's not just teens that cause problems. Everyone seems to think that WE are always loud and obnoxious. To be honest, the kids that would be a disturbance wouldn't bother themselves with the task of finding verification and getting a pass. They would much rather hang out somewhere that they aren't at risk of being attacked or kicked out. The mayor is smart on this one because giving teens beach tokens would give them something to do, especially for kids like me who have three teens in the family and cannot afford $96 worth (including mom) of beach tokens. I'm fifteen and I see the benefits… Why can't you?

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