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  • Writer's pictureCARAruns

Keep Montrose Harbor Accessible for All

Updated: Mar 23, 2021

CARA calls on Mayor Lightfoot, Alderman Cappleman, and the City Council to reverse the decision to install parking meters at Montrose Harbor to keep our parks open and accessible for everyone in Chicago, regardless of their financial means.

Sign the petition now at

News broke today in the Sun-Times that Mayor Lightfoot’s administration sought the addition of parking meters at Montrose Harbor. As well, that this plan was approved by 46th Ward Alderman James Cappleman and approved by City Council.

There are few places, if any, in our city that experience a more varied set of activities, and a more diverse group of people coming together as the trails, green spaces and beaches in and around Montrose Harbor. Montrose Harbor has long been the hub of running in Chicago, but also a space for persons and families from all over Chicago to enjoy our parks and beaches for a walk, bike ride, bird watching, soccer, and much more.

This has never been simply a result of the space available; it is due to its accessibility. The addition of parking meters places a barrier to enjoy our parks. These meters are not just a new tax on the park’s Northside neighbors. It’s a barrier to diverse Chicagoans from all over the city who have long come to Montrose Harbor.


3/23: Addressing Transportation Advocates Our petition has resulted in some backlash from sustainable transportation advocates. While we understand how parking and sustainable transportation intersect, we believe this is opportunistic to turn this into a cars vs. bikes/public transit issue. This is about accessibility, and standing up to anything that adds a barrier to enjoy our parks.

One transportation advocate has attempted to discredit CARA by questioning our motive due to their lack of understanding of CARA's work. CARA has long worked tirelessly to achieve our accessibility mission.

Notable efforts include the 'Go Run program, in action since 2016, where we produce 40 free timed 5K and 1 Mile events annually in local parks. Ten of the 13 locations we'll visit for this program this year are within South and West side neighborhoods.

CARA also launched its Run Crew program in late 2020 which aims to increase opportunities in organized group running in more neighborhoods. New Run Crews in Chicago's Austin and Marquette Park neighborhoods are already in action.

Transportation advocates believe meters will promote more biking and public transportation usage. While we fully support the cause of sustainable transportation, we've prioritized park access. Their cause in relation to parking meters, and ours, do intersect but are unrelated in purpose.

The vision of sustainable transportation should come from work to make those forms of transportation better options, not because they are someone’s last and only resort. Advocates need to create opportunities, and change minds, rather than holding the public hostage with more car-based fees. If sustainable transportation advocates are successful with their mission, parking spaces won’t be needed, and then they can be billed as a luxury item for those who still choose to drive. As of now, cars are still a necessity for many, especially families.

As we continue forward, our focus remains on making the park accessible for runners, as well as the diverse uses and people of the park. 3/21: Alderman Cappleman Responds

Several twitter users addressed Alderman Cappleman yesterday regarding this petition. Here is the text of his response:

"We are experiencing an unprecedented budget crisis due to COVID and our court-mandated unfunded pensions that were a mess when I took office. I never expected anyone to like any of the solutions and no government leader EVER wants to take anything away that’s already free. People wanted the police budget cut to make up for it, but there are 14 wards with murder rates 10 times higher than what’s found in the 46th Ward, all located in wards that are predominantly African American and experiencing high poverty - institutional racism is real. 85% of those wards with exponentially high crime had alderman vote yes on the budget because they wanted more, not fewer, police. They also need programming to address the root causes of what their wards are experiencing. Given that the parks in areas of very high poverty have parking meters, areas that are predominantly white should be doing the same if not more to help carry the load. When I vote on a budget, I take all of Chicago in mind, not just the 46th Ward. We must deal with the City’s Tale of Two Cities, and most residents on the Northside have no clue what residents on the Southside and Westside go through. They deserve fairer treatment that is long overdue."

Maybe instead we should be making parks all over Chicago more accessible to strengthen communities and possibly lower crime rates? With all due respect to Alderman Cappleman, making local parks less accessible never improves communities. Meters should be gone at every local park.

3/20: Media Reaction

Media attention to the realization that Mayor Lightfoot and City Council approved a plan to install parking meters at Montrose Harbor has largely focused on the negative reaction from citizens. We encourage supporters of this petition to contact the Alderman in their Ward, as well as Mayor Lightfoot's office and Alderman Cappleman's office to voice your opinion. Demand that our parks be open and accessible. No person's access to public parks should be limited by fees. Please take the next step beyond this petition. A simple clear expression of your view makes a difference. Contact Info: Mayor Lightfoot: Alderman Cappleman: Find Your Alderman: Media Links:

Tribune: Where might those proposed new Chicago parking meters be located? Search our map to see (

Sun-Times: Why I’m serious about keeping parking meters away from Montrose Harbor (

WTTW: ‘Surprise’ Plan to Add Metered Parking at Montrose Harbor Has Been Hiding in Plain Sight (

NBC6: City of Chicago Prepares to Install Parking Meters at Montrose Harbor (

ABC7: Chicago to install parking meters at Montrose Harbor this summer (

Block Club Chicago: Farewell, Free Parking: Meters Coming To Montrose Harbor, Angering Lakefront Park Advocates (

Streetsblog: Sorry, losing the perk of free beach parking is not a major social justice issue (

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