A revised concept for the 16th and Wabash park was presented in the meeting room of the District 1 Police Station on April 27th.
The park proposal arises from Alderman Fioretti’s initiative, and he should be acknowledged for pushing this forward.
Here is the concept presented last November:
The plan at that time was fairly well received – the overall park area was allocated 60% as an area for South Loop residents to play with their dogs in a safe off-leash environment, and 40% for people without dogs – but inviting them to participate in the experience.
The total area allocated as a ‘big dog’ area was ~0.37 acres and the total area allocated as a ‘small dog’ area ~0.17 acre. Total: about 1/2 acre of the 1 acre site.
Note that the size of Grant Bark Park, the largest dog park in downtown Chicago is ~0.4 acre.
So, no, not a big park. But OK.
And, given careful thought about appropriate surfacing, one that might be a decent play area for people from the neighborhood and their dogs.
We were all looking forward to the revised proposal, “reflecting community suggestions on the park design to date“!
Here, to scale, is the new concept plan (apologies for the cell phone pic, but this is what we’ve got):
Take a look at that. The little squiggly area to the right of the image is the dog park. There’s a performance area and stage to the left, on the Wabash St. side.
You want numbers?
The so-called ‘big dog’ area comprises about one quarter of an acre (0.26 acres).
The so-called ‘small dog’ area comprises about one tenth of an acre!
(It’s easy to get these numbers by scaling the images and counting pixels. They are correct.)
The new proposal shrinks the off-leash areas by 33%.
What did the CPD representatives say about this?
‘We are building one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, dog friendly areas in Chicago!’
16th & Wabash Proposal – ~0.36 acres
Grant Bark Park – ~0.4 acres (1.1x)
Wiggly Field – ~0.5 acres (1.4x)
Montrose Dog Beach – ~2.5 acres (6.9x)
This is Chicago, granted. Yes, parks have to be small.
How about these small parks:
Grant Park Tennis Courts (next to Grant Bark Park): ~0.8 acres (2.2x)
Grant Park Skate/Beach Volleyball Park (next to Grant Bark Park): ~0.9 acres (2.5x)
Grant Park Softball Fields (north of Grant Bark Park): ~3.3 acres (9.1x)
Sure, there were a lot of very nice design elements in the proposal –
- A water feature (nice!).
- Three-dimensional sculpting of the space (nice!).
- A walking bridge over the space for people playing with their dogs (nice!).
- A performance stage (nice!).
But parks are not just places “the dogs can come and do the things they need to do” (quoting Leslie Recht, Alderman Fioretti’s liaison).
Parks should be places where dogs and people can play, run and socialize.
Imagine your dog chasing a ball in the proposed off-leash park… where exactly?
Off-leash dog areas are important to the community. People will take their dogs to places where they can play and run and catch.
And residents will support a sanctioned area if it evidences thoughtful respect for those needs.
If the goal here was to create a space for people and dogs that encouraged them to use sanctioned space for off-leash activity… ?
Well. You decide. Comments are welcome.