Members of Evanston’s Parks and Recreation Board voiced opposition Thursday night to Ald. Devon Reid’s plans to permit topless beaches and to keep parks open all night.
Board President Robert Bush said the topless beaches proposal “would impose on parents who would not be able to make the decision on whether their young children should be exposed to various parts of women’s bodies.”
The board declined to take a formal vote on the topless beaches issue after Parks Director Audrey Thompson noted that it currently is on hold in the city’s Human Services Committee.
But board member Karri Machut said, “I don’t think he [Reid] is going to let it go. It will get to the stage where we will need to take a vote.”
Reid, who did not attend the parks board meeting, notes that under current rules men are allowed to go topless in public.
He claims his proposed modification to the public nudity ordinance would eliminate “an unequal standard between two genders” that also creates “ambiguity for transgender and non-gender conforming residents.”
On all-night access to the parks, the board voted to urge the City Council to hold public hearings where people — both those who live near parks and those who don’t — could comment on the plan before taking any action on it.
A revised plan from Reid to open parks to overnight use was approved by the Human Services Committee on a 3-1 vote on June 6. An earlier, broader plan from Reid for all-night park use was rejected by the committee in May.
“It’s amazing that certain council members talk about transparency and community involvement, and try to shove this through without any public hearings,” Bush said.
“For people who live next to a park, it would create an unsafe environment,” said board member Donald Michelin.
“I live across the street from a park,” board member John Bryan said, “and I’d feel unsafe if people were in the park all night.”
Bryan said kids already hang out in the park playing music late into the evening.