By AARON GETTINGER
The Chicago Park District’s grant from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources will fund a renovation of the Iowa Building, new baseball and softball diamonds and creation of a new dog park, with the agency confirming that the new facility will replace the park’s existing facility, Jackson Bark.
But Jackson Bark will not be removed until construction on the new dog park, planned to be located along the inner harbor in Jackson Park southwest of the intersection of Lake Shore and Hayes drives, is finished. A community input process is planned before any work begins.
“The current dog-friendly area is unofficial, on existing tennis courts without the usual amenities that the Park District normally installs in dog parks, such as proper drainage, pea gravel and a water source for cleaning purposes and drinking fountains,” said Park District spokeswoman Michele Lemons in a statement. “A new dog-friendly area was vetted during the (South Lakefront) Framework Plan process and residents expressed a preference for a new location for the dog park away from residences, but not on existing tennis courts.”
Canine enthusiast Todd Agosto turned derelict tennis courts south of the 59th Street Harbor into Jackson Bark in 2014. The facility became very popular with South Siders, as the Park District only opened its first dog park south of 18th Street last year, as reported by the Tribune.
A driving range included in the Framework Plan on space currently occupied by Jackson Bark has no timeline, however, because funding has yet to be secured for the new golf infrastructure planned for Jackson and South Shore parks.
Lemons acknowledged some residents’ appreciation of Jackson Bark’s unique equipment, which she said the Park District agreed to consider when relocating the dog-friendly area.
“Next steps would be to discuss relocation and design elements with the community to further vet the project prior to moving forward with any plans,” she said.
The Herald has requested comment from Jackson Bark.