Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance and South Lakefront Plan

I am an attorney who has lived in the Jackson Park Highlands neighborhood within South Shore for 54 years. Throughout that time, activities in Jackson and South Shore parks and lakefront have been very important to my family. Because of my interest in proposed changes in those places, I have attended nearly all the public meetings to discuss the South Lakefront Plan sponsored by the Chicago Park District and the Chicago Park Golf Alliance, and have read and heard many pertinent reports by other civic organizations and the news media.

I believe there is a central consideration which has not been clearly addressed at any of those meetings, nor by those reports: the requirements of the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance. Among the purposes of that ordinance, as stated in section 16-4-050, are the following items:
“(f) To promote and provide for continuous pedestrian movement along the shoreline;
(g) To promote and provide for pedestrian access to the lake and lakefront parks from and through areas adjacent thereto at regular intervals of one-fourth mile and additional places wherever possible, and to protect and enhance visits at these locations …;”

However, those requirements are not being fully met, and it does not appear that the proposed South Lakefront Plan intends to correct that shortcoming. I would like to offer two recommendations.

Presently, there is no public pedestrian access from the South Shore Cultural Center beach going northeast to the intersection of 67th Street and South Shore Drive. In addition, there is no public pedestrian access to the lakefront adjacent to the easternmost side of South Shore Cultural Center Park. My first recommendation is that the South Lakefront Plan should include public pedestrian access in those places as required by the Lake Michigan and Chicago Lakefront Protection Ordinance.

Another consideration is the condition of the lakefront from the intersection of 67th Street and South Shore Drive going northwest to the south side entrance of the Yacht Harbor. Technically, at present, public pedestrian access to this part of the lakefront does already exist. But in fact, this area is so heavily strewn with jagged rocks and debris as to render continuous pedestrian movement impractical. My second recommendation is that the proposed South Lakefront Plan should include improvements to assure reasonable public pedestrian access to the lakefront between the intersection of 67th Street and South Shore Drive going northwest to the south side entrance of the Yacht Harbor.

Gilbert Cornfield