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Leashed Dogs Will Be Allowed in Maggie Daley Park

THE LOOP — When Millennium Park opened in the summer of 2004, many downtown dog owners were barking mad to find their leashed pups weren't welcome in the nearly 25 acres of greenspace.

But as construction continues on what will become Maggie Daley Park next door, the Chicago Park District has good news for fans of "Chicago's front yard."

The new park will allow four-legged visitors when it's scheduled to open in the spring of 2015, but the pooches will have to be on a leash at all times, park district spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said.

Located just east of Millennium Park, Maggie Daley Park is being constructed on 20 acres of greenspace bordered by Lakeshore Drive, East Monroe Street, South Columbus Drive and East Randolph Street, including the former Peanut Park Daley Bicentennial Plaza.

The green light for canines is good news for people like Tim Cross, 60, a retiree who lives across the street from Millennium Park, which bars even leashed dogs to keep the grass free of pet waste.

Cross usually walks his 12-year-old Queensland Heeler, Murph, along the perimeter of Millennium Park every day, making the trek down to Jackson Boulevard, where leashed dogs are permitted in Grant Park.

"It's hard," Cross said. "I'm glad [Maggie Daley Park] is going to be dog friendly. I was worried they were gonna cut us out. I was hoping they would put an area where they could go off-leash," like Grant Bark Park, an 18,000-square-foot dog-friendly area at Columbus Drive and 11th Street he frequents.

The park is named after the former first lady of Chicago, the late wife of former mayor Richard M. Daley. Maggie Daley died of breast cancer in November 2011, and the newly-inaugurated Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced plans to redevelop a park in her name last August.

Maggie herself would likely approve of the welcoming policy: the first home she shared with the ex-mayor in Bridgeport included two dogs, Casey and Murphy, according to her obituary.