Thursday, July 3, 2008

Herald's Chicken: Point Savers Enforce Swimming Ban

posted by Peter Rossi

Chicago Police are beefing up efforts to harass swimmers off of Promontory Point as part of a team effort with the Save the Point Task Force on preservation.

"The historic revetment is a 'living museum' and should not be sullied by these brazen swimmers," huffed Point Saver Spokesman Leon Lame-Brain. 

"Since May 2001, the evil Park District has offered to sanction deep water swimming off of the Point. We saw this ploy for what it is: an attempt to make the Point a usable park. We have rejected these plans out of hand for some time now,"  continued Mr. Lame-Brain.

Other preservationists on the task force questioned the political orientation of the swimming community.  "Swimming is a sport of the upper class.  Some of the swimmers have disturbing foreign accents.  We have even heard that professors and students at the elitist University of Chicago like to swim off the Point.  We are the arbiters of acceptable activities at the Point,"  commented one task force member who wished to remain anonymous. 

"Bicycling is a pursuit more suitable for the people," commented another task force member, mounting a new titanium road bike.

Task force members have teamed up with police to report swimmers.  "Not since the 68 convention has the Chicago Police Force distinguished itself with such a level of community service,"  declared task force president Don Veal.

"We have successfully delayed sanctioned swimming at the Point for more than eight years and intend to keep this unlawful activity out of our park forever.  This will require eternal vigilance," observed Mr. Veal.

Other members of the task force were not as optimistic. "We are concerned that the users of the Point may come to their senses and push for acceptance of the Compromise Plan.  This diabolical plan would allow for swimming, fix the Point, and restore the Caldwell landscaping.  We plan on redoubling our efforts to misrepresent the facts and dupe our elected officials," whispered Ms. Constance White-Nimby, task force co-chair.

While there is no evidence that Point Savers are calling in the Chicago Police, it is a fact that this group has fought plans by the Park District to fix the Point and create a sanctioned deep-water swimming area since May of 2001.  Sanctioned deep-water swimming and water access has been in every plan proposed by the City since May 2001.


EdJ said...

Excellent post, Peter.

I understand that the Task Force is also creaing a list of endangered ruins in Hyde Park. If these ruins are repaired, it would endanger the preservation of these ruins.

The list includes the Point, Doctors' Hospital, Harper Court, the murals under the IC tracks, and the sculpture on 55th. I expect that a large group of people will begin a constant vigil at the sculpture with elderly activists chaining themselves to it to prevent it from being demolished.

Zig & Lou said...

In 'Crazy Hyde Park' all the trees are potential 'killer logs' that METRA is cultivating to add to its evil embankment arsenal. Viva la Crazy Hyde Park! Oh, and Spock has a beard in Crazy Hyde Park.

J/tati said...

Today I rode my titanium road bike over to the Point and swam. I didn't notice any heads exploding...

chicago pop said...

J/Tati, speaking of exploding heads, I've seen you riding around without a helmet. We'll be peeling your cranium off your titanium if you keep it up.

chicago pop said...

Took a dip on the south side of the Point, where those two absolutely archaic and jerry-rigged ladders get you off the lip of the revetment; two lifeguards were there and nodded their heads when I asked if I could get in the water. Then they left, "Enjoy the water," their parting words - and I did, as I saw them head back towards 57th St. beach.

The north side was very busy, with few grandmas and no cops in sight.

Richard Gill said...

And the truth comes out! Elitist Save-the-Pointers don't want a sanctioned deep water swimming area, because "everyone" would want to use it. To Save-the-Pointers, it's much better to swim exclusively and unlawfully. Forbidden fruit is that much sweeter. That way they get to engage in their other favorite activity: purposefully breaking the law, then protesting against "police harassment". They must be the same people who let their dogs run in the tot lots.

Elizabeth Fama said...

It would be nice to have sanctioned swimming on both sides because some days (depending on wind, debris, chop) the north side is better, sometimes the south side is better, and sometimes both sides are good. I prefer the north side whenever possible, but long-distance swimmers prefer the south side. The pipe ladders on the south side were built and installed by swimmers, not by the Park District.

bornatreese said...

Over the weekend I asked a 57th beach lifeguard captain about the swimming. He confirmed that swimming off the south side is sanctioned but that you have to enter from the point, not the beach. South side only makes no sense, as Elizabeth pointed out. (also, zebra mussels are a problem). The lifeguard seemed to have the idea that it was the south side because "we can keep an eye on you" on that side. Well, no they can't--it's not like the swimming at Ohio St. where the lifeguards are stationed along the route.

Peter Rossi said...

try swimming off Ohio street, in the algae filled tepid water that reeks of gasoline/oil mixture from boaters.

try swimming off Ohio street, where one woman's leg was severed above the knee by the prop from some moron's speedboat.

try swimming off the Point (either side) where the water is very clean and the worst you worry about is the occasional jet ski.

I dont know what bt is talking about the "zebra mussell" problem. The water is much cleaner thanks to those dumb chums.

For those like Beth who like to "swim" off the northside, it is really too bad that the Point Savers broke off negotiations with the city. The Park District has been very interested in working out the details of swimming, but after the dishonorable actions of this group they have washed their hands of the whole affair.

I am convinced if there were reasonable people from our community involved, we could get swimming on both sides.

EdJ said...

I have to admit that I don't know the specifics about the zebra mussels at the Point are, but I do have to say, while they have helped filter the Great Lakes by eating algae, they are outcompeting the native diporeia which is the bottom of the food chain for most native fish in Lake Michigan. The density of diporeia in southern Lake Michigan is down significantly since 1994. There is real concern that the loss of the diporeia may alter the entire Lake Michigan food chain threatening lake trout and other lake species. Fish populations in the Great Lakes are down since the zebra mussel arrived 20 years ago. The whitefish are much smaller bacause the zebra mussels provide less nutrition than diporeia.

On the plus side, the density and number of zebra mussels are down - because they are being pushed out by the more pernicious quagga mussel. Quaggas are actually worse than zebra mussels because they go deeper than the zebra mussels and outcompete native mussels in Lake Michigan.

Yes, the lakes are clearer now, but that's because they eat more than the native mussels. The water clarity can be a problem because it lets in more sunlight which reacts with nutrients that runoff into the lake. This can lead to cladophora algae. The suff stinks and also brings in guls to eat them. They leave behind droppings that increase levels of E coli in the water, leading to an increase in beach closures. Plus, it's just plain ugly.

Both the zebra and quagga mussels filter out and ingest botulism that are in the bottom sediments of the lake. These mussels are eaten by round gobies which are then eaten by shorebirds. There have been large die offs of birds in the last couple of years, probably more from the quagga.

So, the zebra mussel's not all sweetness and light.

Elizabeth Fama said...

Don't mess with Edj on the subject of the Great Lakes!

Thinkish thinker said...

As a youth of chicago, i really hate the idea of re-doing the point, and the fact we can't swim there. I have so many memories that i would like to revisit, but all i get is a ticket..

-sad teen

EdJ said...

Sad Teen -

The Point isn't like it was when you were younger. It is deteriorating at a rapid rate. Look at the photos that Elizabeth, peter and Pop put up in earlier posts. It looks nothing like it was intended, and more importantly, it is not functioning i the way it was intended or designed.

It is a shoreline erosion control structure. Without it, the shoreline would erode into the lake. Heck, it's eroding into the lake the way it is. That's not good for the shoreline, and it's definitely not good for the lake to be getting all of those sediments. Luckily, the city makes these shoreline structures part of the enjoyment of the lakefront.

I'd like my kids to enjoy the Point, but they can't because I think it's a safety hazard. I'd like them to be able to build memories of the Point for themselves. I'd like to build some of my own. The only way that's going to happen is if the Point is rebuilt.

We can't have a committee of Miss Havishams trying to freeze everything in one day in time. All that leads to is decay and a really old wedding cake that nobody wants to eat anymore.

Elizabeth Fama said...

And a Dickens reference, too! My hero!