Apr 132011

Yesterday, thanks to coordination between Claudine Malik of the Chicago Park District, contractors for Verizon Wireless, and board member Pamela Focia, twenty tons of fresh pea gravel were delivered to Grant Bark Park.

We were able to have the north gate fencing removed so that the truck could back up into the park.

And here’s the result:

IMG 1108

What next?

Two things. We’re going to install landscape fabric along the west side fence to prevent gravel loss to the Metra tracks below.

And we’re going to make arrangements to distribute the gravel at the north end of the gravel area.

This will happen in the coming weeks.

You’ll notice that twenty tons sounds like a lot. But it turns out that to completely refill the 40′ x 220′ (8800 sq ft) gravel area to a depth of six inches would require two hundred tons of gravel!

More to follow.

Jan 172011

We don’t know much yet, but here’s what we’ve been told by the contractor who was pulling down the fencing on the north side of the park today:


  • Verizon is installing new cell towers in the space between the park and the maintenance building.


  • They are going to have to bring in cranes and equipment, and need to have access to the area – hence the takeover of the park.

  • The process is going to take on the order of a month (‘industry standard’ for such an installation), but no guarantees.


  • Everything will be “put back as it was before” once the installation is complete.

You can make your own inferences about some of the issues here!

For now, the only access to the park is from the south entrance.

The ‘interior fencing’ appears to be secure, and your dogs should have access to the south end, the full gravel area, and the area around the kiosk at the north.

The SLDogPAC has contacted Chicago Park District personnel to get some answers, and we’ll put up another post when we have more information.

 Posted by on January 17, 2011
Jun 152010

One of the two most common questions that people bring up is – “Why is the Grant Bark Park surfaced with asphalt?“.*

A reasonable question.  The last thing I think any of us would propose de novo is to build an off-leash dog park that looks like the parking lot at your local mall:

The Chicago Park District requires that DFA be hard-surfaced, and states that hard surfaces prevent transmission of bacteria and viruses. But this is not some bureaucrat’s whim, and there’s a history behind the decision.

The proponents of the first dog park in Chicago, Wiggly Field, spent a lot of time trying to figure out the best surface for an off leash area in the City.  They noticed that grass quickly became mud, and they carried out tests for the parasites left behind in various surfaces, with the help of veterinary consultants.  They approached the issue of determining the appropriate surface for dog ‘friendly’ areas thoughtfully.  And it was their input that guided the policy decision made in 2000.  Their work is written up in the attached document, which we’re posting with permission of Stacey Hawk of DAWG:

Click to download a PDF version of the document

For those of us concerned about the off-leash dog ares in Chicago, this is an important read.   The priority issue is clearly stated: Infectious Disease Control.  On page 2 of the document, the issues and concerns with various surfaces are explored, and the argument is made for requiring a hard-surface at ‘DFA’s, and for allowing a pea-gravel relief area (with some constraints).

There are also some revealing compromises stated up front –  particularly, that “dog guardians should ideally cross-train and exercise their dogs in various environments“.

This is a document that impacts all of us as dog people in the City.  The evidence and arguments supporting the ‘hard surface’ decision were provided by dog advocates, not by bureaucrats.  Those of us who believe that ‘dog park as parking lot’ is a reductio ad absurdum will have to acknowledge and address the issues raised in this report if we are to propose a different direction.

* The other being – Where is that dog park, anyway?

May 042010

The May newsletter from our new business member Dogone Fun! includes a nice shout-out for the SLDogPAC.

Thanks y’all!

But I gotta say, we wish it only cost ” a minimum of $400 per year to maintain” the parks 😮 It’s more like $4000 +🙂 And like you point out, that money does not just show up, it only comes from memberships and donations.

Breaking news: Dogone Fun! is going to participate with the South Loop Dog PAC in the Grant Bark Park Spring Cleanup on Sunday May 16th.  Watch for the announcement!

Mar 262010

It’s spring, there’s no water in the park… When will it be turned on?

The best we know is this, from Janis Taylor of the Park District:

I’ll check and get back to you but it is usually the first few weeks of April…
1st or 2nd week in April was the response.

Oct 082009

IMG_0312🙂  Good news – we finally installed a ‘Dog Waste Bag Dispenser’ at Grant Bark Park and have committed to keeping it filled. If you forget a bag, feel free to take one.  And if it’s empty or near empty, please please call usemail, or tweet @sldogpac – DogPAC members are NOT going to be patrolling it on a daily basis, if that.

😥 Bad news – the water timer installed at the Bark Park has finally broken!  It lasted, what, a month!?!   But it did NOT fall apart like the first one.  Instead, it seems to have fallen victim to crappy user interface design – it looks like someone twisted it the wrong way until the internal mechanism broke.

🙂 Good news – no big deal, it’s getting colder and the Chicago Park District will probably be turning off the water soon.  And, we have another in reserve, so we’ll label that up with arrows and squares and a diagram on the back, and post the instructions when time comes to reinstall it.

😈 Grant Park 001Bad news – it seems that advertisements on the kiosk are no more – Janis Taylor of the CPD writes:

Park District staff visited the park recently and saw that there was a sign posted on the kiosk selling advertisement space (see attached). Please remove this immediately.  It is against Park District policy and, as was stated at the city-wide meeting, dfa committees are not permitted to allow companies to advertise in exchange for money or other benefits.

Thank you,


That sign has been up for, what, a couple of years?? Who knew?

 Posted by on October 8, 2009
Sep 292009
Sign at the south end path adjacent to the sidewalk.

Sign at the south end path adjacent to the sidewalk.

The Chicago Park District has graciously installed a sign at each of the path entrances that lead from the sidewalk to the Grant Bark park. Sure, they made an effort not to be too, too, fancy – but every little bit helps.

Sign at the East side path off Columbus St.

Sign at the East side path off Columbus St.

 Posted by on September 29, 2009
Sep 112009


Well the ‘Vigoro‘ mechanical water timer was no good and fell apart after a couple of days, so we’re trying the ‘Nelson’.  The Nelson doesn’t have the same kind of glued joint as the Vigoro, instead, it has a metal shim to hold the attachment fitting.  So at least it’s not going to break apart the same way but maybe it’ll find some other way to fall apart.  We’ll see.  If you find it broken, please take a brief look at it and then let us know what happened.

 Posted by on September 11, 2009
Aug 202009

The timer is installed at ground level at the central source.

Thanks to the CPD plumbing department, the central water at Grant Bark Park is now running off a mechanical timer. The timer was installed to address the longstanding ‘issue’ of the water hydrant being left on 24/7 to run the improvised fountain at the center of the park. It works beautifully.


Vigoro mechanical timer

The water flow is controlled by a simple egg-timer mechanism, and it can be set to shut off water flow after 15 minutes to 2 hours. The connections look to be leak-free, so there should never be a need to shut water off at the source. (There are two wrenches for the source stored in the lockbox).

Please try to use this timer, and to educate others how to use it: you want your dogs to play in a water fountain, you turn the dial, and you can leave the park without worry or guilt!

The flow timer is plastic, and we don’t know how long it will last in the weather, or whether it will break due to heavy or clumsy use. That’s fine – they are cheap ($14.77 at Home Depot), and if over time the mechanical timer works well as a way to regulate the water from the central source, the Dog PAC will budget to replace them periodically as necessary. If you see that it’s broken – contact us!

We’ve also installed a timer at the water fountain spigot. The hose is connected to a sprinkler now, but we imagine that long term the hose may just be left unattached for filling up water bowls (and, if we get our act together, for filling up wading pools).


Timer installed at the faucet off the drinking fountain

 Posted by on August 20, 2009
Aug 182009

Wow, take a look at the drain installation at the Grant Bark Park:


The drain entrance is above the surrounding asphalt!

Look at the front of that drain – there is an obvious lip that extends above the surface of the surrounding asphalt, allowing water to pool and accumulate debris, bacteria, and parasites.

And it’s even worse at the Coliseum Park DFA:


The drain is surrounded by a depression that holds water!

Is this shoddy work, or what (sure, it could be ‘natural settling of the asphalt’)?

There’s already been a report of someone suspecting that their dog acquired Giardia from nosing around the drain at the Grant Bark Park.  Now, I’ve always heard that rabbit droppings (yum!) were the more serious threat for Giardia, but whatever.

These are defects that shouldn’t be allowed to persist.  Here’s the thing – the issue with the Coliseum Park DFA drains was reported to the Chicago Park District over two years ago (by email, dated 5.1.07).  Nothing has been done since.

So, what do we do?  As far as I can tell, repairing these defects is clearly an obligation of the Chicago Park District under the terms of the agreement that they make with the community groups managing the ‘DFA’s.  See here, ‘Maintenance of Capital Projects’ including ‘sewer repair’ and ‘asphalt replacement’.  Perhaps the solution is simply to keep bringing this to their attention, every week, every month, until it gets done?

That takes some effort. And it would help if we could log our requests with the CPD, so that everyone could keep track of the status of the issues that have been raised.

Consider this the first entry in that ‘log’ – the Coliseum Park DFA drain defect was raised again with Janis Taylor of the CPD on Friday 8.14.09 (photographs emailed 8.17.09).  She was notified of the Bark Park drain defect by email, 8.18.09.