To the Editor:
The new gates installed in Jackson Park to restrict access to Wooded Island are part of a worrying trend that seeks to discourage use of the parks, rather than trying to make the parks accessible to all.
We saw the lakefront parks and playgrounds closed for almost an entire year for Covid safety, even months after restaurants and bars could operate indoors.
Last summer, some neighbors tried — through a series of unpublicized meetings and a process that excluded renters and other stakeholders — to close parts of Burnham Park hours earlier, because of noise complaints.
And now, we find spiked gates installed only a few hours after they were announced, closing one of the most beautiful parts of the park during evening hours (which, for many who work, is the only time they can visit the park).
A wider range of park users should have been consulted with and considered before such a drastic change to park access was made. The locked gates may — or may not — solve some of the problems articulated by JPAC and others who advocated for the gates, but they will definitely — with 100% certainty — decrease usage of the park. Other solutions should be sought instead.
The parks are there for people to use them. Any attempt to restrict people from using the park on the pretext of public safety should be opposed.
I hope the Park District removes the misguided gates as quickly as they put them up.