To the editor:
I was astonished by that story in the June 9 Reader (“Meter Mad”) in which Ellen Herdeck expressed sympathy for car owners facing Park District parking fees. The issue isn’t how much the Park District should charge for parking; it’s whether there should be parking in the lakefront parks at all. A decade of observation has convinced me that the major users of parking spots along the lakefront are not park users but residents of adjoining neighborhoods. These neighborhoods are virtually all well-off financially, and they enjoy the best public transit in the Midwest. Why should tax dollars be used to provide residents of these neighborhoods with parking on park land at all?
The larger issue is of course how land should be used along the lakefront. It’s part of Chicago’s self-image that, unlike other Great Lakes cities, it’s saved its lakefront for recreation. And it’s true there’s not much industry along the lake. But more than half the land in the north-side parks is given over to roads and parking! People on foot get leftover spaces that are inundated by noise and pollution from automobiles. Lincoln and Grant Parks are designed above all as parks for cars. Chicagoans have much more reason to be ashamed than proud of their treatment of the lakefront. And one way to begin to rectify the situation would be to remove every square inch of subsidized parking from the parks along the lakefront.