It appears unlikely that Evanston dog owners will be able to let their pets run free on the beach again this year.

Parks Director Lawrence Hemingway told aldermen this week that with the water level in Lake Michigan continuing to be high, it seems unlikely there will be a place to set up a dog beach this year.

A chart from NOAA showing Lake Michigan water levels in meters over the past two decades. Red line shows the average over the last century. The dark blue line shows annual averages. The light blue dots show monthly averages.

Aldermen have indicated they don’t want to turn over any of the city’s existing beaches for people for use by dogs.

And Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, said at Monday’s Human Services Committee meeting that creating a shared beach for people with and without dogs would create safety and liability issues.

One resident at the meeting suggested turning the Lincoln Street Beach, which formerly was claimed by Northwestern University, into a dog beach. But the state now is asserting ownership of that land and the city doesn’t yet have an agreement with the state giving the city authority to manage it.

A dog beach used to be located just north of the city’s Church Street boat launch, but the rising water levels have mostly eliminated the sand beach in that area.

Hemingway says about 1,000 residents bought permits to use the dog beach when it was in operation and the city made between $40,000 and $60,000 in annual revenue from the dog beach permits.

Overall the city’s beaches generate about $800,000 in revenue, according to the 2019 city budget.

The Wilmette Park District has a dog beach at the south end of Gillson Park, but the non-resident permit fee to use it is $202 for one dog and $67 for each additional dog.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Dog Beach

    Why not a shared beach based on time of day.  Dogs from 6-9a.m., for instance, and humans the remainder of the day?  The 1000 responsible dog owners, who were willing to pay about 8% of the beach revenue, would self-police so long as approprate waste containers were available.  How would this pose a liability or health risk.  In fact, while I don’t have the reseach on it, my own empiracle data shows that humans are much more irresponsible with their use of the beach than dog owners.  Just look at the trash on the beach following any given summer day.   There appear to be more and more municipalities that are finding this type of shared use to be a great solution.  What’s more, it shows that the City isn’t governing just for the 1 or 2 constant complainers but rather to a much larger portion of the population that would like access to this incredible natural amenity.

    1. Special hpurs for dogs on beaches a great idea!

      The beaches are not contaminated by our well cared for dogs. Many other animals and water birds do more to spread “germs” than our beloved dogs ever could! Humans leave junk all over the place. Special early hours for our dogs makes sense. 

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