HUMBOLDT PARK — Parking along Humboldt Park’s namesake park will be banned this upcoming holiday weekend to prevent people from congregating when the weather heats up.
Chicago Police Sgt. Adam Henkels said his district — the Shakespeare District (14th) — came up with the parking ban while brainstorming ways to keep people safe and enforce social distancing this Memorial Day weekend.
Under the ban, people will still be able to walk, jog and bike around the park while practicing social distancing — they just won’t be able to park vehicles on the road surrounding the park, Luis Muñoz Marín Drive.
“It’s a big park and it’s challenging to patrol,” Henkels said. “We figured that maybe the parking ban will prevent people from using it as a destination for BBQs” and other activities.
The parking ban will begin at 11 p.m. Thursday and last through 6 a.m. Tuesday, according to signs posted along Luis Muñoz Marín Drive.
Henkels said the ban isn’t a response to an uptick in social distancing complaints in and around the park, though there have been complaints related to the park.
“We get calls from citizens saying people aren’t social distancing, just like anywhere else in the city,” Henkels said of Humboldt Park. “The park is just another avenue where people are not social distancing as they should so we’re hoping this will alleviate it.”
A spokeswoman for Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26th), whose ward includes Humboldt Park, said the alderman wasn’t asked for his input.
Chicago Police News Affairs couldn’t immediately say if other Chicago parks will be taking a similar approach this weekend. A spokeswoman deferred the question to the Chicago Park District.
“The Chicago Park District currently has no plans to ban parking but will work with Police to enforce any bans the Police Department puts in place,” a park district spokeswoman said.
Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Mayor Lori Lightfoot has repeatedly called on Chicagoans to practice social distancing while using Chicago’s parks and trails.
Lightfoot shut down the lakefront path and The 606’s Bloomingdale Trail to enforce social distancing after people packed the popular trails on a warm day.
Other cities, including coronavirus hotspot New York City, have closed streets to car traffic and opened them up to pedestrians to help with social distancing, but Chicago has not taken that approach.
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