LAKEVIEW — A group of Lakeview residents have banded together to ask the city to build a dog park near Lake Shore Drive — and have hundreds of signatures in support.
The new committee of residents wants to have a field near the lakefront converted into a fenced-in dog park — ideally by summer 2020, said Jeff Katz, a Lakeview resident and member of East Lakeview Neighbors for a Real Dog Park. The committee’s petition for a dog park has collected more than 600 signatures.
Members of the committee met with the Park District’s Board of Commissioners on Wednesday morning to introduce their proposal. The specifics of the plan still need to be ironed out, Katz said after the meeting, but he’s confident the park will happen.
The group has proposed the dog park be created in a large grassy spot near Lake Shore Drive and Barry Avenue. Many people already bring their dogs there, said Katz, who has an 8-month-old Brittany pup named Maggie.
Though the Belmont Harbor Dog Beach is in the area, Katz said local dog owners don’t always want to do use that because the area is polluted and people don’t want their pups to get sandy.
“We really feel like there’s an opportunity for a large, new, non-beach dog park in the area,” Katz said. “And we picked an area where people frequently exercise their dogs, anyway. They’re all going there right now. But it would be safer if we had a fenced area where people could exercise their dogs and socialize.”
The dog park would ideally have fencing, a water source and a permeable ground cover because the field is prone to flooding, Katz said.
The group expects to have to raise $150,000-$200,000 for the dog park, Katz said, so it’s keeping its proposal modest for now. In the future, it could include things like an agility course or a fountain for dogs, but those things are a “pipe dream at this point,” he said.
The committee had its first meeting in February and now has 14 members. It submitted an application for the dog park on Friday and is still collecting signatures for its petition to show there’s support for the park. Members will also keep meeting with neighborhood groups and doing outreach, Katz said.
Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) and the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce wrote letters in support of a dog park coming to the area.
Jessica Papp, Tunney’s director of Community Affairs and Special Events, said the alderman “supports the process” of working with the committee and trying to find a “suitable area” for the dog park, noting the proposed location at Barry Avenue and Lake Shore Drive has “drainage issues.”
“We’re going to let the Park District do their due diligence before we can confirm that would be the best and ideal location,” Papp said.
Tunney’s office has received positive and negative feedback about the proposal, and since it’s just in the “very early” stages of happening there will be community meetings if the process continues, Papp said.
Katz said East Lakeview Neighbors for a Real Dog Park is open to discussing and potentially changing and and any all aspects of the plan.
“We just want a park,” Katz said. “How it works out specifically, we’ll see how that plays out.”
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