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Suburban beach view is blocked by fence, frustrating residents

Suburban fence fight frustrates residents
Suburban fence fight frustrates residents 02:11

CHICAGO (CBS) — People in north suburban Wilmette have some strong feelings about a new fence.

It recently popped up outside the South Beach at Gillson Park.

The fence is one of a few big changes coming to the popular beach this summer.

"This is a beautiful view, and it's different every day. It's like a changing painting."

When she walks the shoreline, Charlotte Walker notices the subtle changes.

"It's amazing. It's a beautiful natural wonder," Walker said.

She visits South Beach at Gillson Park just about every day. She notices one obvious change. An obstruction.

"An abomination, really. I think it's awful," Walker said. 

The Wilmette Park District calls it a slatted dune fence, but some beachgoers see it only as a barrier to beauty.

"It's not just about the fence. It's like a barrier to people who just want to come and enjoy the view," Walker said.

The park district recently built the fence to address the "growing concern about the safety and well-being of visitors."

There are now just three entry points to the beach and the water is officially open to swimmers for the first time.

Lifeguards will be on duty this summer, and there will also be a daily fee of $5.00 for residents and $10 for non-residents.

"I understand that there were parties and people leaving glass and broken things on the beach and also people swimming. And then the Coast Guard had to go rescue them, so I understand why they want to make it a swimming beach and have lifeguards. It's just I think this was poorly planned," Walker said.

She wishes Wilmette had considered an option that didn't block the view from Overlook Drive.

"Part of the reason we live here is for this gorgeous lakefront," Walker said.

However, the park district said moving the fence any closer to the water would endanger the dunes and the grass.

All that beauty is still there – just beyond the fence.

"It's just a barrier to this beautiful gem that we have," Walker said.

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