This letter is in response to the Evanston Economic Development Committee’s approval of a proposal to lease the Arrington Lagoon Beach Shelter for use as a private restaurant and bar, which was reported in this Roundtable article.
It is the long-held mission of the Southeast Evanston Association to staunchly protect the lakefront from private development, so that it remain an unspoiled and peaceful respite from urbanity, a space for passive enjoyment of an non-commercialized Lakefront.
We are skeptical, that even in the event that a truly responsible tenant is chosen, the character of Evanston’s lakefront would be damaged. Drawing diners and patrons of adult beverages away from our struggling downtown establishments toward the lakefront will also exacerbate existing problems in both spaces.
We are concerned that the increased traffic from vendors and patrons would hinder the passive enjoyment of the Lakefront around the lagoon. The inevitable odors of food preparation and waste would taint the area, where current litter management is already a significant issue.
That is to say nothing of how the consumption of alcoholic beverages along the lakefront would affect the character of the environs.
While we recognize the need for expanded opportunities for small business owners, and the additional tax dollars that such development brings, we do not believe that commercializing the lakefront is the correct answer.
Like many Evanstonians, we are concerned about the many dining and drinking establishments that have not survived the COVID-19 pandemic and are grateful that the Council continues to look for ways for Evanston to be a thriving location for business.
However, to do so at the lagoon both ignores the needs of downtown while also eroding the integrity of our lakefront – one of our greatest assets.
Evanston, and indeed Chicagoland broadly, has a storied tradition of limiting private development along its lakefront. The Southeast Evanston Association urges the Council to continue that tradition and reject further commercialization of Evanston’s lakefront.