Evanston news delivered free to your inbox!
Despite Evanston offering three free beach days this summer and starting a new digital token program that added new fees to the City budget, staff was excited to announce that it looks like the City profited overall on its newly-tailored beach program.
With just a short period left in the beach season, City Parks and Recreation Director Lawrence Hemingway said the three free days – Saturday, Sunday and Monday – to residents has not hurt the City. With revenues reportedly over $800,000, as of August 2, previous budget concerns that projected a departmental shortfall of 20 percent are no longer a worry.
Over a quarter of these collected funds are from digital tokens and passes, a new feature this year through the City’s contract with Viply.
“Viply receives 2.9 percent plus (an additional) $1.30 for each token sold. That is equivalent to $2.17 for a $30 token. The City receives the remaining portion of the revenue,” Hemingway said.
That means that of the 3,666 residential seasonal tokens, 752 residential daily passes, 1,205 non-residential seasonal tokens, and 8,494 non-residential daily passes sold digitally, Viply will be paid nearly 10 percent of those earnings. Currently, that number is more than $23,000.
Hemingway said he believed the excellent weather this summer made a huge difference in beach turnout. Although they offered many free days, he still believes a good weather day brings out more residents than offering a free pass day.
“We have a good summer with lots of warm weather, which has resulted in people continuing to use and pay to enjoy our beaches,” he added.
Timothy Russell, who has been a gate attendant for three years, agrees that there haven’t been any significant changes in beach attendance, but notes that overall, there’s a difference between the crowds that form on workdays compared to days people generally have off.
“I feel like weekends versus weekdays have totally different groups of people,” he said. “There might be more Evanston people that come out because it’s free, but other than that we haven’t noticed any trends.”
Since revenue projections are based on the whole season, it’s hard to tell how much more the City stands to make in the time that remains. And, decisions on what the next steps will look like won’t be finalized until after this season ends.
“The department will be making a recommendation to the City Council during the upcoming budget season, where the Council will direct staff on how to proceed in the future,” said Hemingway.