By JOSEPH PHILLIPS
With a number of 23 dog – friendly parks in the city, Ald. Sophia King (4th) hosted a community meeting to discuss the potential of bringing the city’s 24th dog park to the 4th ward on Tuesday, July 18, at Kennicott Park, 4434 S. Lake Park Ave.
“I think dog parks make communities vibrant,” King said in front of a group of dog advocates in favor of bringing a dog park to the community. “They help build friendships, bring safety to the community and there are a lot of positive attributes that come with that.”
King said that after her first few weeks elected in office, she was approached by several 4th ward residents about the importance of bringing a friendly safe dog park to the community.
“We are [currently] looking at potential locations, [but] nothing is written in stone,” King said. “Our office has done a little background [and research] work on what people would like to see.”
During her presentation, King discussed the importance of having “Dog-Friendly Areas” (DFA’s) within the community, potential locations for the park, how to form a committee to govern the park, and the type of features 4th ward residents would like to see in the park.
King shared that groups who are interested in starting the dog park would not only have to raise their own capital but maintain the facility and the ongoing maintenance.
“Once a Dog-Friendly Area is established, the DFA committee does not just go away,” said Claudine Malik, project manager of the Chicago Park District. “It’s a very grassroots organization.”
According to Malik, the committee is made up of a group of five people appointed by the alderman, typically made up of people who live within the community. She explained that the cost to build the dog park infrastructure would range from 150 to 200 thousand dollars without expansion.
In spite of King’s desire to see a dog park built on the south side, the 5th Ward has its own make shift Dog Park in “Jackson Bark.” This unofficial dog park is located on a tennis court in Jackson Park and will soon be abstracted, due to a golf course driving range being built in the near future.
The Chicago Park District (CPD) website lists 23 dog-friendly parks across the city, however, the majority of them can only be found around downtown and the north side leaving dog owners on the south side with very few options.