If I may, let me let you in on one of the best-kept secrets in Chicago. The best beach is Ardmore Beach. What makes it so good is that there is no parking, and there is no beach house, and it’s hard to park on the surrounding streets. And all this is on purpose. You see, it keeps the riffraff out.
A short while back, when the Park District was building new beach houses at North Avenue Beach and at Foster Avenue Beach, they asked the Edgewater community if we would like one at Ardmore. We declined the offer. We like that this beach is ours. Sure, the lakefront is supposed to belong to all the citizens of Chicago, indeed to everyone wherever they may be from. It’s not like Wilmette, Evanston, or New Jersey, where they make you buy a token to use the beach. So Ardmore is effectively ours because it’s too much hassle for anyone else to use.
So I know just how Don Gordon and the people in Rogers Park feel about their beach well north of Loyola University and Devon Avenue [The Works, October 28]. I don’t own a boat, and I never see myself owning a boat. A marina I don’t need. But I do own a car. And I ride a bike. My car I drive regularly through Don’s Sheridan Road up to Evanston; I and thousands of others. Only they drive through it twice a day. Of course I can’t really ride my bike because of all that traffic. I’m surprised, though, that he puts up with the traffic. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t also have all the people driving in via Ridge and Peterson like I have through my neighborhood. It’s like living in the middle of an expressway, when you stop to think of it. I’m surprised that he hasn’t stopped to think of it. But maybe he lives east of Sheridan Road in that enclave alongside the park and beach. Maybe he doesn’t have to cross busy Sheridan Road as a pedestrian, like we do in Edgewater to get to the el or shopping, because he drives where he needs to go.
Then too, his neighborhood is not nearly as park poor as Edgewater, so he cares not about more lakefront park space. Just not on his radar, not in his backyard, so to speak. That is certainly his attitude toward the marina. Not in my backyard, thank you, you park planners, with your hidden agendas.
So he is not moved by the fact that greater goods for more people are served by marinas and park space and moving traffic off neighborhood streets and into a sunken, two-lanes-each-way park drive.
And one more thing: Harry Osterman is my neighbor as well as my representative. I can’t say as I blame him for taking a parochial stance on this issue. After all, Ardmore Beach, now Osterman Beach, was renamed for his late mother.
PS: Don Gordon, I’m posting this on soapblox.net/Chicago if you would like to respond. I’ll also post a link to one of the “hidden agenda” designs by a small local architectural outfit. Stop by and engage in a debate.