City Council members directed city staff Monday night to move forward with plans to bring back Evanston’s dog beach — despite evidence that the shoreline area still is frequently underwater.

With water levels down significantly from peaks reached a couple of years ago, dog owners have been pressing to reopen the beach.

But Deputy City Manager Dave Stoneback said at the Council meeting, a reopened beach will require expensive improvements to make it accessible to those with mobility limitations.

It will take a long ADA ramp to cover the four to five foot drop from the parkland behind the shore to the beach itself, Stoneback said, a project that might cost $200,000.

And, to comply with a Cook County ordinance, Corporation Counsel Nicholas Cummings added, the city will have to re-establish licensing requirements that limit access to the beach to dogs whose owners prove the pets are fully vaccinated.

Some alders suggested just ignoring the health rule, with Ald. Jonathan Nieuwsma (4th) saying he favored a laissez-faire approach to regulating the dog beach and Ald. Clare Kelly (1st) claiming that Wilmette lets people use its dog beach without any regulations.

Kelly also questioned the need to hire a structural engineer to design the ramp, but Stoneback said the city does not have a structural engineer on staff who could do the design work — and probably doesn’t have sufficient need for such work to add add one as a full-time hire.

Without taking a formal vote, it appeared staff received direction to move forward with hiring a consultant to prepare a design for the proposed ramp.

A group of dog beach supporters are planning a rally to support reopening of the dog beach for 10 a.m. Saturday at the beach site, just north of the Church Street boat ramp.

And the city is planning a open house later this month to consider a broader range of potential improvements to the city’s lakefront parks and shoreline in the wake of recent high lake levels.

That session is scheduled for 6 to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 25, in the community room at the Evanston Public Library, 1703 Orrington Ave.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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