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Bronzeville, Near South Side

Bronzeville’s Burroughs Beach Could Get A New Boardwalk, Concessions And More

Plans for the beach, which draws more than 40,000 visitors each year to the 31st Street lakefront, include reconstructing access paths to alleviate congestion.

A lifeguard on duty at the 31st Street Beach in Chicago July 15, 2020.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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BRONZEVILLE — The Park District is resurrecting years-old plans to improve a popular Bronzeville beach and is starting the search for funding to make it happen.

Park District officials unveiled two design options to overhaul Margaret T. Burroughs Beach, 3100 S. DuSable Lake Shore Drive, during a virtual community meeting Tuesday.

Both proposals would replace the existing beach house with three buildings that would house a lifeguard station, expanded restrooms and concession facilities, but with slightly different layouts.

The access drive leading to the beach would be reconstructed to allow those driving in to bypass traffic through a “roundabout” to get to the drop-off space, adding a slip lane for harbor users and parking garage users to bypass the drop-off area.

A boardwalk would weave through the designated natural areas, leading to a nearby picnic area with tables and lawn space with “enhanced lake views.”

The district worked with Site Design Group on on the designs.

Plans are still preliminary, so it is unclear how much the proposed changes would cost and where the funding would come from, district officials said.

Credit: Provided.
A rendering of expanded facilities planned for Burroughs Beach.

Upgrading facilities at the beach has been in the works since 2019, but it was put on hold when the COVID-19 pandemic started.

With the beach drawing more than 40,000 visitors each year for events like house music parties and Steppin’ Under The Stars, congestion has become an issue. The proposals shown Tuesday were designed to ease the crowds, expand green space for picnicking and other activities and preserve the Burnham Wildlife Corridor, officials said.

The designers also consulted with the Chicago Area Runners Association and the Active Transportation Alliance to get a sense of how pedestrians use that portion of the Lakefront Trail to avoid “conflicts between trail and beach users,” officials said at the meeting.

Credit: Provided
Plans for the Burroughs Beach revamp also call for the reconstruction of access paths to improve car and pedestrian traffic.

Signs honoring the late educator and DuSable Museum founder for whom the beach is named are included in the proposal. Nearly 30 acres of Burnham Park were renamed for Burroughs in 2015.

Sarah White, a lakefront planning coordinator for the Park District, called the proposal a “visioning document,” saying officials will try their best to incorporate feedback received to move forward with the project.

“We’re not looking to shrink the size of the beach by any means. We’re really looking at how we can kind of blur the lines between the beaches and our facilities, and bring more spaces for people to gather,” White said.

Young people who frequent the area are invited to share their feedback and ideas for the redesign, Park District officials said. Those interested in offering input can contact Ald. Sophia King’s 4th Ward office.

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