Evanston’s Human Services Committee voted 3-2 Monday night to kill Ald. Devon Reid’s proposal to keep city parks open to visitors 24 hours a day.
Reid had argued that people working late shifts should be able to visits parks in the early morning hours.
He said National Parks and are open all night and that Parks in Paris, France are open through the night. (In fact, it appears that only a limited number of Parisian parks are open all night.)
The proposed change was opposed by the Parks and Recreation Board and by Parks Director Audrey Thompson.
Thompson said the most of the time when people are in a park after closing hours, there are other undesirable behaviors going on.
“It’s very dark in some of our parks that don’t have lighting,” Thompson added. “There are parks I wouldn’t want anyone to be in after hours.”
The Parks Board had voiced concerns including that leaving parks open all night would require increased police patrols, would lead to noise complaints from neighbors and could lead to homeless people migrating to the parks.
Ald. Peter Braithwaite (2nd) said he wished Reid had called him to discuss the idea.
“I already get lots of calls from residents complaining about noise and activity in the parks,” Braithwaite said. This would invite more homeless people and create a whole host of problems, he added.
He said he’s received calls from residents who went to Penny Park with children in the morning and found “someone sleeping there with bags and behaving in a very aggressive manner.”
“There’s crazy stuff that happens in parks,” Braithwaite added, saying that beer cans and condoms had been found in Penny Park.
Ald. Bobby Burns (5th) said all the undesirable activities the Parks Board was concerned about could still be prohibited without completely closing the parks to visitors overnight.
Ald. Eleanor Revelle (7th) said she agreed with Braithwaite and wasn’t interested in further considering the proposal.
A motion by Reid to send the idea back to the Parks Board for further discussion failed on a 3-2 vote with Ald. Juan Geracaris (9th) joining Braithwaite and Revelle in voting against it.