More dog parks could be coming to the city’s South Side.
On July 25, just a week after Chicago broke ground on the first official dog park on the South Side, Mayor Rahm Emanuel released proposals for three new dog parks that would be located in the Bronzeville and Oakland neighborhoods.
Under the mayor’s plan, the city would sell the land for each dog park to the Chicago Park District for $1. Each park would be just less than 11,000 square feet and would be outfitted with synthetic turf, landscaping, lighting, fencing, benches, water fountains and other amenities, according to the mayor’s office.
The parks would be located at 3906 S. Lake Park Ave., 3838-40 S. Indiana Ave. and 4149-53 S. Vincennes Ave.
About 300 residents with the group Bronzeville Association for Recreation with Canines, or BARC, have been working for about 18 months to bring a dog park to the area. Ben Gerhold, a member of BARC’s board of directors, said the project came together with support from Aldermen Sophia King (4th Ward) and Pat Dowell (3rd Ward).
“We were just fed up because the Park District doesn’t provide any ongoing support for dog parks,” Gerhold said about residents deciding to form BARC.
Gerhold said plans for the new parks call for black metal fencing, separate areas for small and large dogs, water fountains for dogs and security lighting.
“Because these are kind of the first [dog] parks on the South Side, the [aldermen] wanted to do it right,” he said.
The new parks would be funded through $1.8 million in Tax Increment Financing funds and $92,000 in Open Space Impact Fees, both of which require approval by the City Council.
Gerhold said the initial goal was to complete the dog parks by fall, but no start date for construction has been set.
On July 18, the city broke ground on a new 7,100-square-foot dog park at Calumet Park near the Indiana border – the first official dog park on Chicago’s South Side.
The idea for the park was sparked by a social media post from a community member in 2015, said Bobby Loncar, president of the Southeast Chicago Dog Park Committee.
“She pointed out … that we don’t have one here, and it’s a shame that we have to drive faraway to take our dogs to these places,” he said.
Loncar owned a boxer and a yellow Labrador retriever at the time, and said he and his neighbors currently have to drive to Indiana or the south suburbs to access a dog park.
He and the eight-member committee went through the process of establishing a dog-friendly area, and although it took nearly four years, he said there’s something to be learned.
“What I always said is if you put the people in the right places, you can get things done,” he said.
Note: This story was originally published July 26, 2018. It has been updated to include quotes from Bobby Loncar.