After some Evanstonians complained about the city’s new free-beach pass program for teens — launched after many folks had already bought their beach tokens for the season, Evanston Now asked City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz how the program’s going.

Here are the questions we asked and the e-mailed responses we received.

Q: How many free beach passes have been distributed so far? What’s the expected number for the full season?

A: 72.  Not sure what the final amount may be.

Q: What’s been the impact on sale of full-price beach tokens?

A: Not sure until Summer concludes.  It our expectation that many of the users of these free beach passes are not regular purchasers of beach tokens.

Q: Is the city still distributing free beach tokens through social service agencies as it has done in recent years — and if so, what impact has the new program had on the earlier one?

A: Yes.  No impact seen at this point.

Q: Overall, for the season, what impact is the new program expected to have on city revenue?

A: Not sure until Summer concludes.  It our expectation that many of the users of these free beach passes are not regular purchasers of beach tokens.  The City already has given away free tokens in the past and we see this as an extension of that existing program.

Q: When was the new program approved by the City Council? If it wasn’t approved by council, why not, given its potential for reducing city revenue?

A: The free beach pass program is seen as an extension of the existing program to give away free beach tokens, so no need for additional approval.

Q: Why was the program not announced until after many residents had already purchased tokens at the pre-season price? Will refunds be offered to those who feel they were misled by the late announcement of the new program?

A: The free beach pass program is an initiative that has come out of the Mayor’s Safe Summer Summit.  The timing of the program was coordinated with that initiative and is geared at youth that likely were not regular users of the beach.  There are no plans to offer refunds for beach token purchases.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Can we get over this?

    Can we please move on from this?  I have a teen and she got her free 10 visit pass.

    As a family, we do not go to the beach and we have never bought tokens.  My daughter has gone with friends and always paid the entrance fee for the handful of times she went.

    I think this is a nice program that offers teens the opportunity to go to the beach for free 10 times during the season.  This will save my daughter her own money, which she will no doubt put back into downtown businesses. 

  2. Beach token pass

    I've never really understood the whole beach token pass thing here in Evanston. Is it a revenue generator?  I wonder if we couldn't think of better ways to manage this and make it a little more enticing to the residents of Evanston.  The beach and shoreline views are obscured by those ugly snow fences running the lengths of the beaches.  We are so fortunate to have Lake Michigan as our Eastern border, it seems a shame to limit it like this.

    Perhaps we could do something similar to how Highland Park funds their library.  They have $100 allotted on the property tax of residents designated to the library.  Seems we could do something similar and for far less (if you think about the number of residents or property owners versus the actual number of tokens purchased/sold over the course of the summer).  This may not be the right answer but at least worth investigating….. what do all our neighbors to the north do?  How do they manage their parks and beaches along the shores of Lake Michigan?

    1. The program is a mechanism to

      The program is a mechanism to keep people from Chicago and other suburbs from using Evanston beaches heavily and thus give priority to tax-paying Evanston residents.  If it wasn't enforced, you would see the beaches inundated with kids from Chicago and the associated problems that go along with those large crowds.

  3. Grab it and run

    Big surprise that you want to "get over this" as you and your daughter have benefited from it. Quick, hurry up, take the freebies and run! NO MORE TALKING ABOUT IT! You and your family do not go to the beach and "have never bought tokens" but now that they are free and you got yours….Quiet everybody!


  4. Let the teens earn their pass

    I personally do not think my tax dollars should just be given to teens for free beach passes. They should earn their passes. How about they have a specific GPA in order to qualify for a free pass (3.0 (sans AP effect)? Or how about working 4-5 hours doing volunteer activities for the city? I am sure there are plenty of things we could get our students to do to teach them the value of a dollar. The only real issue I have with these tokens is that we are giving the kids something for nothing and I do not think that is right.

  5. So far, passes not being used

    My teenager works at the beach and reports he has yet to punch a single one of the 10-visit passes.

  6. Free Beach Tokens and a Visitors fee for the 4th

    As a parent of a teen who has worked the beach as a lifeguard several summers, I have never heard of problems caused by teens at the beach. Instead, it is often paying adult visitors who feel that with their beach admission comes the privilege of  drinking, ignoring the guards requests to stay in designated swim areas and leaving their kids loaded diapers for all to enjoy. Beach passes should be viewed as a revenue source and should be available to Evanston residents only. Daily admission was instituted for visitors.

    I feel as if teens would have a greater sense of stewardship of the beach if ,instead of handing out the 10 punch cards, the program was an exchange for 2-3 hours of community service such as beach or park clean up. l believe that given the chance to give back, most kids would opt to earn their card through community service. I do not agree that a minimum grade point should be a criteria. Sometimes it is those kids who struggle academically who need the support and TLC a community can offer.

    Another revenue source we are overlooking is access to the Evanston 4th of July Fireworks on the beach. Charge 5-10 dollars a carload for people driving in from the north 'burbs  or coming  from Chicago via Sheridan Road and Howard Street. Just put up a blockade and collect  by the carful. Money collected might just begin to  cover the clean up for all the mess that is left behind by "visitors" to our beach front to picnic and watch the festivities.  One of the saddest sights I see all year long is the beaches and parks the morning after the 4th. I am thinking that charging non residents might be a good way to balance the mess that is left behind. It has got to be costing the city a lot of money to hire all the extra police that are in place on the 4th and the clean up crews that get to haul it all away the morning after.

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