Fans of Evanston’s former dog beach have recently advocated converting a people beach for dog use — but that move would be hard to justify economically.

In recent years Evanston has on average generated over $800,000 annually from beach operations, but only about 6 percent of that revenue came from the dog beach in the years in which it was open.

With only five remaining beaches, or six counting the Lincoln Street beach whose ownership is still in dispute, and with rising lake levels shrinking the size of all the beaches, it’s not difficult to see why city officials are reluctant to turn over another beach to dogs, given how little their owners have paid in the past for the privilege.

Beach revenue now only modestly exceeds annual beach operating costs, meaning the cost of capital improvements at the beaches mostly has to come from other revenue sources.

State law bars pets from beaches where people are swimming because of the potential to transmit diseases and the risk of aggressive behavior by the dogs.

Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway earlier this month proposed that, instead of creating a new dog beach, the city consider establishing a dog park away from the lake where pets could run off leash either in an existing park or on available private property.

He said parks staff plan to research potential options this fall and winter and hold community discussions on the subject next spring and summer.

Assuming that planning leads to a viable solution, he’d seek City Council approval for the plans in September 2020, with a goal of having a new dog park open by October 2021.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Dog Park

    Isn’t there still a Dog Park on the Ev canal bank across from Sam’s Club? Even if technically in Skokie, it serves many satisfied Evanston dog owners  True, dog owners who live in Northeast Ev would have to come to central west Evanston to enjoy using it. 

      1. Dog Beach vs Park

        The dog park is not sufficient. It is mostly dirt half the year due to lack of maintenance and is not usable once it gets over 80 degrees due to animal health risks in that heat without the water element or any real cover. It’s also next to a parking lot and tow yard, which is not great.

        Just allocate some space, raise dog beach prices by at least 50%, and stop employing someone to sit outside the beach (the dog park is not monitored and the gate / PIN system at the old beach was sufficient). That’ll be a lot easier than finding another park area to be enclosed with cover and  a water element. If they can’t monitor the existing park, they’re not monitoring a new one.

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