LOGAN SQUARE — After years of “miscommunication” between former 1st Ward Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno and residents over a long-promised dog park, new 1st Ward Ald. Daniel La Spata is starting fresh with what he hopes is a more streamlined planning process.
La Spata is hosting a town hall meeting on the matter from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Monday, July 1 at his office, 1958 N. Milwaukee Ave.
“We know we need a dog park between North Ave and Armitage, Western and California, but how do we start one?” the town hall flier reads.
La Spata’s staffer, Ally Carvalho, said the goal of the meeting is to bring people together and “get everyone on the same page.” It’s the very first meeting in what they expect to be a long planning process, which could take months, if not years.
“There were a number of promises and miscommunication between residents, resident groups and the previous alderman,” Carvalho said. “We found it necessary to bring everyone together. … so we can get everyone on the same page to then figure out how to make this a reality.”
The Logan Square/Bucktown pocket of the 1st Ward has seen a substantial amount of development in recent years, which has and continues to attract a lot of young people with dogs, Carvalho said. But residents in the area don’t have an official dog-friendly area to let their dogs run around and socialize.
Some dog owners have been using the vacant lot on the northeast corner of Cortland Street and Washtenaw Avenue as an unofficial dog park.
Dog owners have also used the fenced-in field at Maplewood Park — a move that hasn’t gone over well with neighbors. Despite visits by police and the threat of tickets and fines, the dog owners haven’t stopped bringing their off-leash pups to the park.
“There has never been a time when dogs were legally allowed off leash in Maplewood Park,” a member of the park advisory council said in an email.
Carvalho said at one point Moreno promised neighbors the city-owned site at 2460 W. Cortland St. would be converted into a dog park, but it never happened. The site is home to an old building formerly occupied by the city’s Department of Streets and Sanitation. Most recently, the dog rescue One Tail at a Time was looking to move into the building, but the plans fell through.
All of this adds up to a lot of confusion and miscommunication swirling around the dog park project, Carvalho said.
With the town hall meeting, La Spata and his staffers are aiming to cut through the confusion.
“There are a number of [potential] lots — maybe four or six. So people see these open areas and think that could be a dog park. Part of the point of this meeting is to say, OK, in order to do a dog park, we need to figure out who owns these lots, where is the money going to come from to buy it and develop it and what committee is going to run it?” Carvalho said.
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