Controversy brews in Wilmette over new fees, fence at Gillson's South Beach

Controversy is brewing in Wilmette over a new fence and fee system implemented at Gillson's South Beach.

Some residents of Wilmette are against the move and rallied at the Wilmette Park District's board meeting on Monday.

With the new fence and system, residents and non-residents have to pay to get on the beach. Additionally, the fence obstructs the view of Lake Michigan.

"One of the reasons that we have a lakefront park is so we can look at the lake, and I can't see the lake. So please take the fence down," a resident told the board.

However, the park district said the move was made to address safety concerns and conflicts among beach-goers and staff.

"It was a smart decision by the park district to put it in because people were coming and not obeying the rules. They were going in and swimming in the lake in areas where swimming was not permitted. And it's a safety issue," said Joe, a Wilmette resident.

The new policy includes a fee-based swim area at South Beach, with a $5 entry charge for residents and $10 for non-residents. You have to pay to enter, whether you plan to swim or not. However, anyone walking along the shoreline won't have to pay.

The Wilmette Park District Board approved the measures three months ago without a formal vote.