PILSEN — El Paseo Community Garden is raising money to bring a dog run to a recently acquired plot of land in Pilsen.
Since launching last month, the fundraiser has raised more than $8,600, nearing its $10,000 goal. The dog run would be at 947 W. Cullerton Ave., next to the garden.
“We are really excited and grateful” for the support from neighbors and local businesses, said Paula Acevedo, a volunteer coordinator for the garden.
With the funds, the group plans to expand water service to the dog run and install permanent chain-link fencing and a double-gate system, Acevedo said. Trees will be added to the area, she said.
Donations also will help with maintenance of the approximately 6,000-square-foot community-managed dog run.
Last year, NeighborSpace, a nonprofit urban land trust that supports community gardens, including El Paseo Community Garden, bought the half-acre lot next to the community garden.
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The site was previously home to Loewenthal Metals, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The Loewenthal facility operated as a lead and zinc smelter and a scrap metal dealer in the 1940s. The smelter stopped operating in the 1950s, according to the EPA.
The EPA examined the site in late 2011 and found high levels of lead, arsenic, copper, mercury and zinc in the soil. Remediation took place in summer 2013.
The cleanup occurred after the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization, a volunteer group, pressured the EPA to clean up the site, according to a WBEZ report.
The volunteer-run garden was founded as Growing Station on Sangamon between Cullerton and 21st streets in 2009, and it was renamed as El Paseo Community Garden in 2013.
El Paseo is home to a community garden, an apiary, permaculture site and The Hive, an outdoor classroom created in partnership with nonprofit The Human Scale.
Last fall, El Paseo Community Garden began soliciting feedback from neighbors on what they wanted to see on the plot of land. A dog run, nature play area for children, community stage, fitness area, benches, picnic tables and open space were among the requests.
Acevedo said they are looking to finalize design plans next year to begin the permanent installation of the dog run to ensure the safety of community members and dogs.
Organizers are also working to create a dog-run advisory committee to maintain the space once it’s set up.
Acevedo said local schools have lauded the effort. She hopes this will spur the creation of other spaces to support the many families with dogs in the neighborhood.
After the dog run is completed, the group plans to apply for grants and raise more money to bring the other elements dreamed up by residents to life.
Learn more about the El Paseo Community Garden here.
Donate to the dog run here.
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