Parking at Montrose Harbor is no longer free

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CHICAGO — Free parking at Montrose Harbor is now over.

As of Thursday, 18 new parking meter boxes are set up, and if people want to park between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m., they will have to pay. Parking will cost $2.25 an hour.

The parking meter boxes are along Montrose Harbor Drive near the Montrose Bird Sanctuary, and the section of Lawrence Avenue that runs past the Montrose dog beach.

The meters are provoking an uproar as some say that low-income Chicagoans emerging from a debilitating pandemic can hardly afford to pay more for parking. 

The boxes are part of hundreds of new meters in the city that will help boost revenue.

“Enough is enough,” said Deidra Hines, who frequents Montrose Harbor. “This is too much. It’s too much!”

Chicago resident Mike Sims worries that the decision will impact locals already financially strapped by the pandemic.

“It’s a little too soon to be charging so much to come relax out here,” Sims said.

Greg Hipp, with the Chicago Area Runners Association said, “There’s a lot of activities that happen here,  especially running community events to running clubs and a lot of our great local charities put on their 5K’s here. When you add some fee barriers to our people to come here, that’s going to affect all the people who use the park.”

Some are questioning the timing and rationale behind the decision as Montrose Park has historically been a haven for Chicago’s working families in Edgewater and Uptown. City Council passed the increase as part of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s 2021 budget. Chicago’s revenue department is adding parking meters in other parts of the city as well.

“There’s a lot of family still not working and we never had to do this before,” said Chicago resident Luis Lemon. “It’s just a bad time.”

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