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Visitors may have to pay to park at beaches

Evanston may soon charge non-residents to park along the lakefront.

A lakefront parking area near Dawes Park. (Google Maps)

Evanston may soon charge non-residents to park along the lakefront.

Parking Manager Michael Rivera will ask the Administration and Public Works Committee Monday afternoon to discuss a plan that would impose a $3 an hour fee for non-residents to park along several popular stretches of the shoreline.

The idea was initially suggested by Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th) at a meeting in April.

With the City Council’s recent decision to give residents free access to the beach several days a week this summer, the city has been looking for alternate ways to generate revenue to cover the cost of beach operations.

Under the plan the city would purchase 10 new parking pay stations and dozens of signs to provide notice of the new fee at a cost Rivera estimates at about $106,000.

People whose cars were registered to Evanston and had paid the city’s wheel tax would still be able to park for free.

The areas proposed for the non-resident fees appear to have roughly 280 parking spaces. With the proposed fee to be charged from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. from July 1 through Labor Day, it might hypothetically raise more than $600,000 a year — assuming the spaces were fully occupied and only used by non-residents.

It’s unclear what percentage of lakefront parking spaces are now occupied by non-resident vehicles or how many would still park there once a fee was imposed, so it’s difficult to determine what the actual revenue to the city might be.

Rivera noted that the program would also require having parking enforcement staff patrol the areas and issue tickets to violators, but he didn’t provide an estimate of any incremental cost for that.

The areas proposed for the non-resident parking fee include:

  • The off-street parking lot at Lighthouse Beach.
  • The 1700 and 1800 blocks of Sheridan Road near Clark Street Beach
  • The 1500 block of Sheridan Road near the Arrington Lagoon
  • The 1400 block of Sheridan Road near Greenwood Street Beach
  • The east side of Sheridan Square at South Boulevard Beach.

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