July 16, 2020

Wilmette Park District

Gillson South Beach Update

UPDATED: July 16, 2020

With summer in full swing, the Wilmette Park District continues to closely monitor the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) daily and follow the recommendations of county and state health organizations.

With the safety of our patrons, participants, and staff as our top priority, WE HAVE MADE THE DECISION TO INSTALL A TEMPORARY FENCE AT THE SOUTH BEACH OF GILLSON PARK for the purpose of preventing swimming and spending the day at the water’s edge to eliminate large gatherings of people who are not adhering to social distancing guidelines.

South Beach has always been designated as a no swim area due to the lack of lifeguards at this location. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, regulations are also in place requiring individuals to maintain social distancing and refrain from congregating in large groups. In recent days, South Beach has seen a high volume of visitors who are neglecting these rules and regulations, causing unsafe conditions for all.

In order to secure the safety of the public and prevent future misuse of the space, it was discussed and decided at the July 6 Lakefront Committee meeting as well as the July 13 Board of Park Commissioners meeting, that the Wilmette Park District will be installing a fence at South Beach.

The new fence will not impact the Dog Beach. Dog Beach permit holders will still have full access to the Dog Beach.

Trail-In permit holders will proceed to the same location as before. Starting Friday, there will be a gate with a staff member to check permits and grant access.

Anyone who wishes to have access to the water for swimming may purchase a Beach Season Pass. In order to accommodate an increased volume of swimming beach visitors, Park District staff are extending the zoned area of the swimming beach along the shore, adding additional lifeguards to the beach, and expanding the buoy-marked swimming area in Lake Michigan.

South Beach will remain open for walking, but visitors will no longer be allowed to congregate, and the no swimming rule will be strictly enforced by Park District staff and Wilmette Police.

We will continuously evaluate the situation and inform the community of any decisions made. We recognize the seriousness of the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in our community. We urge all residents to follow the Center for Disease Control’s tips by staying home if sick; avoiding close contact with people who are sick; covering coughs and sneezes; avoiding touching eyes, nose and mouth; and washing hands with soap and water. For more information and recommendations, go to:

  • Cook County Department of Public Health
  • Illinois Department of Public Health
  • Center for Disease Control
  • World Health Organization

To stay informed with the latest updates and news, check our website or our Facebook page.


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