Chicago Tribune Column: Keep Amazon lockers out of Chicago parks, Mr. Bezos. Just strap one on me instead.

“Rectangular banks of Amazon lockers are sprouting like geometric invasive species in parks across Chicago.

“You may have spotted a few in your travels, but if not, allow me to paint a picture: They look like ugly lockers someone left behind in a park because they were too embarrassed to keep carrying them. That’s pretty much it.

“They’re dark-blue-ish, they’ve got the Amazon logo on them, and they feature exactly the kind of messaging you don’t want to read while taking a walk to clear your head: ‘Order at Amazon, pick up here.’

“It’s as if capitalism’s dog pooped in the park and nobody cleaned it up.

“Amazon has been branching out by launching bricks-and-mortar shops and taking over Whole Foods and setting up pickup and drop-off kiosks in 7-Elevens and all manner of other stores. I assume a moon-based Amazon distribution center is in the offing.

“But parks? Does the company think people often go on evening strolls carrying the juicer they need to return to Amazon? Like they’ll be walking along, savoring the scenery and night air, spot an Amazon locker and say, ‘Well, I’ll be darned. Good thing I brought this juicer. It’s great that these convenient lockers are blocking my view of stupid nature!’

“Block Club Chicago reported Monday that Amazon plans to install more than 100 locker hubs in city parks, and about 50 are already in place. Through a public records request, Block Club obtained a copy of the contract between Amazon and the Chicago Park District that details the rental arrangement.

“For a 6-foot-wide bank of lockers, Amazon would pay $50 a month in rent. For the largest size — 15 feet — the company would pay $125 a month.

“If the Park District approved more than 100 locker locations, according to the contract, Amazon will provide a one-time payment of $200 alocker….Amazon would pay the Park District $170,000 for the first full year. That’s roughly what Amazon founder Jeff Bezos makes in the time it took me to type this sentence. These rates mean the cheapest apartment in the city is now a park-based Amazon locker.

“I realize the Park District is looking for alternative funding streams. But in the grand scheme of things, that’s not much money, and it comes at the expense of the long-standing American belief that locker bays shouldn’t just be plunked down in parks, because they look really ugly and stupid. (I’m fairly sure that was first detailed in Henry David Thoreau’s sequel to ‘Walden,’ titled ‘Who The Hell Put Lockers By My Pond?’)

“Juanita Irizarry, executive director of Friends of the Parks, previously told Block Club: ‘Chicago’s parks should not be for sale.’

“I agree. But if they were for sale, I would recommend charging a good bit more than $170,000 a year. Bezos has created a world in which we can get underwear delivered overnight (don’t ask why I picked underwear, that’s none of your business), but I don’t think that earns him cheap rental costs in our green spaces.

“Let’s keep our parks pristine, and our columnists cloaked in drab, bulky steel containers. As the universe intended.” (Huppe, Chicago Tribune, 8/24/21)

Read the full story at Chicago Tribune

Column: Keep Amazon lockers out of Chicago parks, Mr. Bezos. Just strap one on me instead, Rex Huppe, Chicago Tribune, 8/24/21

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