On September 4th, the Board of the South Loop Dog PAC met with Michael Lange, Project Manager of the Chicago Park District regarding the new park at 16th and Wabash (Fred Anderson Park), to discuss the planning for the new park and dog-friendly area. Board members Pamela Focia, Doug Freymann, and Gordon Stewart presented a number of ideas that we believe would make the new DFA a state-of-the-art recreational resource for people and their dogs in the South Loop. We outline some highlights here, but Mr. Lange asked that we not release details of the latest plan until the park district presents them at a public meeting.
o The Park District will hold a public meeting to discuss Fred Anderson Park development plans in early October. As soon as the date is released you will be notified.
o As in previous proposals, the current plan includes a small public stage/performance area and a plaza area, in addition to small-dog and large-dog play areas, surrounded by a strolling path.
o We emphasized that providing more than one entry point to the dog park would better serve the community.
o We emphasized that the park surfacing should be a top priority, as coated asphalt is not ‘dog-friendly’. The CPD is considering an artificial, state-of-the-art ‘canine-grass’ surface, which is designed to be and will be built upon a specialized drainage substructure, for easy maintenance.
o We asked that the dog park design be people-friendly as well as dog-friendly in order to promote (people) socialization and community building.
o We asked that the ‘interface’ between the dog areas and outside of them be carefully designed so that educational materials (e.g. ‘how to greet a dog’, ‘what dog breed is that?’, etc.) could be posted to bridge communities, and, particularly, to teach kids about dogs.
o Michael assured us that consideration of maintenance activities is an important element of the design. Service gates that we suggested be added will be large enough to allow equipment access.
o Construction cannot begin until after approvals and bidding are conducted in Spring 2013. The anticipated construction start would be summer 2013 and construction will take several months.
o The proposed DFA will be ‘large for Chicago’, but likely will not be larger than Wiggly Field or Grant Bark park.
We’ve been doing our part to advocate for the best possible dog-park in the South Loop at Fred Anderson Park. But the Board of the South Loop Dog PAC is a small group, and we ask that you, as a member of the South Loop community interested in, and hoping for, a great local dog park, take action, too. Please keep in touch with us, come to our meetings, help us reach out to the public and to the press, and let your Alderman know how you feel.
And watch for announcement of the public meeting in October!