Plans to renovate a run-down Montrose Beach concession building into a $2 million dry-land surfing facility is reportedly dead after failing to win the blessing of the Chicago Park District following objections from the city’s community of migratory bird enthusiasts. According to the Chicago Sun-Times, the latest rejection is no less than the third time that hopeful surfing machine proprietor K.C. Hoos has seen his proposed 30-by-60-foot wave pool turned down after seven years of searching, fundraising, and negotiating.
The recent development is the latest chapter in a familiar and ongoing debate that’s nearly as old as Chicago itself: should the city’s public open spaces be left absolutely free of all obstructions to the most idealistic interpretation of Daniel Burnham vision or should these places also feature attractions and concessions like restaurants, rock concerts, and jet ski rentals to better draw-in visitors and give them something to do once there. The answer is probably somewhere in the middle, but where exactly does the city draw the line?
While conflict of opinion with Chicago’s politically active birder community was reported as the deciding factor behind the plan’s rejection, many oppositional residents were also protesting the attraction based on the potential traffic it would create. "The area is already hugely congested in the summer to the point that police close it down to additional traffic and we feel this would only exacerbate that issue," Lincoln Park Advisory Council president Ellen Isaacson told the Sun Times.
- Wipe out for surf pool proposed near Montrose Beach [Chicago Sun-Times]
- Previous Uptown coverage [Curbed Chicago]