LAKEVIEW — A cascading waterfall and a lazy river for Fido could be part of what supporters are calling the city’s premier dog park, but the lavish design is dependent on some major fundraising — and organizers won’t say how much money they actually need.
Lakeview residents championing efforts to establish the neighborhood’s first dog park will host their next community meeting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Brookdale Senior Living, 2960 N. Lake Shore Drive, to discuss designs for the dog park and the next steps toward making the plans a reality.
“It happened much faster than we expected,” said Jeff Katz, a Lakeview neighbor and member of the group. “Ideally if this thing goes right, we could have something up and running by the end of summer.”
In July, the Chicago Park District approved a 13,000-square-foot section at the northern end of a triangular park area that includes Tescler Playground and is bounded by Lake Shore Drive and the inner Lake Shore Drive West, just south of Belmont Harbor.
“It’s sort of a dead space next to an onramp, and it was mostly used for people walking their dogs anyway,” Katz noted.
The spot is north of where the group first proposed the dog park in April, near the Diversey Driving Range and Barry Avenue.
The group has garnered support from Ald. Tom Tunney (44th), 19th District Police Cmdr. Chris Papaioannou and the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce. It has also gathered 1,600 signatures from residents and launched a website for fundraising and lobbying further support from elected officials.
Now, the group is moving forward with designing the park, which will determine how much money it needs to raise, said Katz, who would not disclose the estimated cost of the project.
Current design plans include a space mostly covered by astroturf with paved paths, along with a lazy river and a limestone “mountain” that could include a miniature waterfall, Katz said.
“This is turning into the premier dog park in all of Chicago,” he said. “But what that means is our fundraising needs have gone way up.”
The committee is hoping to get partial funding from city and state government, along with support from corporate sponsors, Katz said.
Tunney has yet to participate in those discussions, but is “eager to see how the site and proposal are received by the larger community,” said spokesman Chris Jessup.
As the project moves forward, Tunney will be closely monitoring the community’s feedback as the final plans take shape. While the park district has approved plans to designate the space as a dog friendly area, the group still needs to gather enough community support and funding before the project can break ground.
Katz said his group is hoping to have funding in place in time to start work on the park in the spring. And while the construction schedule will ultimately be up to the park district, “things are starting to gather momentum,” Katz said. “It feels awesome.”
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