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Lincoln Square, North Center, Irving Park

Lincoln Square Alderman Offers Support For Dog Park, But Ball Is In Neighbors’ Court

Neighbors interested in building the dog park must spend the $100,000 in ward money set aside for the project by 2023.

A dog bounds through Winnemac Park in Chicago's Lincoln Square neighborhood in January.
Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
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LINCOLN SQUARE — Neighbors who want a dog park at Winnemac Park can make it happen — but they have to get moving before city-allocated money runs out.

Residents voted recently to earmark $100,000 of 40th Ward menu money to create a dog-friendly area at the park, 5100 N. Leavitt St.

But that money is about half — at most — of what neighbors would need to build the space. Volunteers who sign up for Winnemac Park Dog Friendly Area Committee would need to fundraise for the rest of the money, circulate petitions to get neighborhood support, pick a location and work with an architect to design the dog-friendly area.

Lindsay Tillman, community outreach and communications coordinator for Ald. Andre Vasquez (40th), told neighbors at a Tuesday meeting ward money must be spent by 2023 or it goes back to the city. It also has to be used specifically for a dog park at Winnemac, otherwise it also reverts back to the city and neighbors would have to request the money again.

“There is a clock ticking on that money,” Tillman said.

Park district rules for dog parks require they be no smaller than 4,356 square feet or larger than 15,000 square feet.

The park district previously identified three potential locations for the dog park within Winnemac:

  • Center of the park, east of Winnemac Stadium and west of baseball diamond No. 4.
  • The southeast corner of the park near the intersection of West Argyle Street and North Seeley Avenue.
  • The northwest corner of the park between Winnemac Stadium and Elizabeth Chappell School.

This dog park could cost $200,000-$450,000, depending on its size and amenities, Vasquez said, which means the committee will likely still need to fundraise for the rest of the money. And the city’s Department of Water Management would also require a subfloor be installed so the park doesn’t become a flood zone. 

“You’ll really have to figure out and take into account things like the flatness of the land,” Vasquez said. “You’ll have to figure out things like if there is landscaping that needs to occur before you’re placing anything. That will all be a part of the design conversation, I imagine.”

Vasquez said his office will support neighbors interested in moving the project forward by connecting the committee with people who have gone through the dog park process before as well as with park district officials. 

But he stressed the committee also will need to get letters of support from the police district and other community groups, conduct land survey studies and get final approval from the Chicago Park District, among other things.

The area is not considered school property, but Tillman recommended neighbors nonetheless seek support from Elizabeth Chappell School, 5145 N. Leavitt St., and Amundsen High School, 5110 N. Damen Ave., for the dog park. 

“Part of community outreach is bringing those folks in, and if the local school council has a concern about one of the design features, work with them to find something that is amenable to both groups,” Tillman said. 

Anyone interested in volunteering on the committee can sign up here.

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