Rogers Park voters strike down Lake Shore Drive extension plan

Breanne Gilpatrick

About 4,100 Rogers Park voters turned out Tuesday to vote on a referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot asking whether local, state or federal governments should allow the extension of Lake Shore Drive north to Evanston. Almost 90 percent of them voted “no.”

The referendum — which also asked if governments should support the construction of any new roads, marinas or developments along the lakefront — was on the ballot in 10 Rogers Park precincts.

According to the Web site of the Chicago Board of Elections, about 88 percent of the voters voted “no” on the referendum.

The potential plan from the City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District would have expanded Chicago park land and extended the famed lakefront highway to the southern edge of Evanston.

A Chicago Park District spokeswoman told The Daily in October that Chicago still needs to conduct a feasibility study to see if a park extension plan is possible, but a Chicago foundation already has sponsored a design competition for possible ideas.

Evanston City Council voted to examine the issue at its Nov. 25 meeting. City staff should report back with results in about 90 days.

Chicago Ald. Joe Moore (49th), who represents the area including the 10 precincts that voted on the referendum, said the result of Tuesday’s vote was not surprising.

But Moore said so far he only has heard a few off-the-cuff remarks from Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and discussion about funding requests for a feasibility study. As a result, he said he doesn’t know how much of an influence the vote will have.

“I suppose (the referendum) would have some influence,” Moore said. “It’s hard to say how much influence it would have unless you are reacting to a specific plan.”

Evanston Ald. Steven Bernstein (4th) said he does not agree with the section of the referendum referring to the construction of a marina. Evanston had been considering building a marina in southeast Evanston until the city council voted to end study of the issue at the Oct. 25 council meeting because of financial concerns and resident complaints. Bernstein said he would have been in favor of building a marina in Evanston, but said he voted against further study for financial reasons.

But Bernstein said he agrees with the vote against the extension of Lake Shore Drive, and now it’s a question of whether the Rogers Park vote will be enough to stop any plans.

“I would like to hope that the people in Chicago will dictate things and that their will will be heard,” Bernstein said. “Of course, elected officials do what they think is right, and that’s not always what their constituents think is right.”

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Voters in 10 Rogers Park precincts whether to expand Lake Shore Drive north to Evanston.

 TOTAL: 4,124 votes cast

 YES: 484, or 11.74%

 NO: 3,640, or 88.26

Source: Chicago Board of Elections Web site