ALBANY PARK — While the issue of a dog-friendly area for Horner Park is still up in the air, plans to reconstruct the park are moving at full speed.
After being stalled for more than 10 years, funding was recently secured for a riverfront restoration on 14 of Horner Park's 55 acres. The Army Corps of Engineers led a discussion Tuesday night in an effort to answer questions about the plan's development.
While the crowd of about 50 residents seemed resigned to holding off on the dog area in favor of moving the highly anticipated restoration along, the space formerly eyed for a canine-friendly environment is being "set aside for future park use," according to Horner Park Advisory Council President Peter Schlossman.
The "design phase" of the renovation, which includes a heavy emphasis on restoring the local ecology, is in "tail end" stage, said Nicole Roach, project manager for the Army Corps.
That design includes analysis of around 2,600 feet of Chicago River riverbed in Horner Park that will, in many cases, be resloped, contoured and extended. Vernal pools, an underbridge bike trail connection, a canoe landing and the relocation of the park's current nature trail are included in the design.
After fences go up and construction begins in the coming months, the renovation then "becomes a big gardening project for four years," according to Frank Veraldi, a restoration ecologist with the Army Corps.
Questions remaining include the fate of dozens of tagged trees along the riverfront, according to residents in attendance, who recommended that signs explaining the process be posted in the park.
The riverbank restoration is intended to give park patrons greater access to the Chicago River.