Robert Bush.

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.”

Kerri Machut.

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.

Donald Michelin.

“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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. The notion of authorizing topless public beaches in Evanston is a terrible idea. Up to this time it clearly exceeds the limits established by commonly understood public morality. While those limits may change in future, that future has not yet arrived, and it would be offensive and embarrassing to many were it to be forced on this community now.

  2. I am supportive of topless beaches. I am a frequent visitor to the beaches so I will actually be affected by it. If my neighbor who identifies as man chooses to take off their top to sun or swim they might or might not be able to. It is up to the 17-year old lifeguards who watch the beach. They have to determine if they think this person presents as sufficiently male to take off their top. This isn’t fair, nice or neighborly.

  3. Reid is like that guy at work who stirs the pot about everything but can’t be fired because he’d sue the whole place into oblivion, so everyone just has to deal with the nonsense.

  4. If Reid gets everything he wants, we’ll be able to legally throw rocks at topless women on the beach. And I wish I was kidding.

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