The Crusader Newspaper Group

Changes coming to 63rd Street Beach as summer kicks off

Crusader staff report

Chicago’s 26 beaches opened this Memorial Day Weekend as families and communities celebrate the unofficial start of summer.

At the popular 63rd Street Beach in Jackson Park, beachgoers will experience something new. Reggies, a restaurant and live music venue, will build a 60-foot deck on the southern end of the beach, according to news reports. The restaurant will be located in the 63rd street beach house. Reggies also has a restaurant and music joint in the South Loop.

Developer Edric Calahan is also working to bring WaveRunner Jet Ski and paddle board rental to the southern end of the facility, DNA Chicago reports.

Calahan reportedly said an area of the lake will be roped off specifically for the WaveRunner operation, and off-duty lifeguards will be on-hand to make sure all equipment is used safely.

Calahan said he plans to open in July or August for both projects. The proposal is reportedly being reviewed by the Chicago Park District before leases are signed to rent out the beach house.

Beaches are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. each day, with lifeguards on duty from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. The beaches close for the summer season on September 4.

Water testing expanded

Meanwhile, the Chicago Park District will produce faster reports of lake water safety. Swimmers will be alerted more quickly about lake water quality because of expanded same-day water testing for bacteria. All city beaches will have safe water tests in place and the new system will take two to three hours for results instead of 24 to 48 hours with the previous system.

The Park District notifies beach- goers if the water quality or weather conditions are dangerous and whether the conditions are safe enough to swim. The information can also be found on its beach website. Citizens can also call a beach hotline at 312-742-3224.

They can also learn about water conditions through color-coded flags at beaches.

A green flag means that the water quality is good and that swimming is permitted. A yellow flag indicates swimming is permitted but beach- goers should use caution because weather conditions are unpredictable or bacteria levels are higher than Environmental Protection Agency water quality standards. A red flag indicates that swimming is prohibited because of dangerous water quality conditions, or weather.

An estimated 100,000 people per weekend day use the lakefront during the summer and more than 60,000 people per weekday use the trail along the lake.

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