Whose Lake Is It Anyway? | Letters | Chicago Reader

Whose Lake Is It Anyway? 

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If Ben Joravsky is looking for his next article idea, I invite him to Rogers Park, where developers would seem to have a license to "run amok," to quote from the headline over a letter in the issue of October 14.

Without any local political opposition, developers of lakeside condos here have claimed beach and water rights as theirs. Without any political or legal interference, these developers build walls to cut off common access to the beach in front of their buildings. Condo owners with no concern for community or common-usage laws and traditions are warning swimmers away from what they wantonly accept as their private property.

I am told that Illinois is one of the very few states whose laws allow such appropriation of riparian rights. If this is so, it's time to rescind these laws. Like Chicago parks, the lake must be held in common trust, beyond any individual's rights to ownership. We have already lost an immense amount of beach and water access to condo developments along North Sheridan Road, a fact that aroused some concern at the time but over the years seems to have become generally accepted as business as usual in Chicago.

Now we are faced with another problem in Rogers Park: the possible development of a harbor along our shore. A recent local referendum made our wishes clear: We do not want any developments along the shoreline. We do not want a harbor. We do not want the inevitable stepchildren of a harbor--high-priced restaurants, parking lots, traffic jams, and the like. There has been talk that the city might be considering a landfill that would move the shoreline ten miles out. The stuff developers salivate over.

Of course a planned extensive landfill may be only a rumor, but who remembers when the lake lapped at the front steps of the Edgewater Beach Hotel?

Many years ago state senator Esther Saperstein decreed that no high buildings should be built in our neighborhood because the sun must always shine on the children of Rogers Park. It would not have occurred to her then that someday greed would deny them the beach and the lake.

Anne V. McGravie

Rogers Park

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