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Bloomingdale Trail: Bucktown Dog Park to Shut Monday as Construction Starts

By Alisa Hauser | October 4, 2013 12:15pm
 Two Bucktown dog parks which abut the Bloomingdale trail will close Monday as construction of the trail begins.  Walsh Park at 1722 N. Ashland Ave. will close for the duration of the construction while Churhill Park at 1825 N. Damen is only expected to close for about two weeks, as murals along the fall inside the park are removed.
Churchill, Walsh Dog Parks
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BUCKTOWN —  A Bucktown dog park is scheduled to close temporarily beginning Monday as construction of the Bloomingdale Trail begins, it was announced Thursday.

A sign inside Churchill Park's dog park at 1825 N. Damen Ave. informs users that the canine area  will be closed for about two weeks and suggests Wicker Park's dog park at 1425 N. Damen Ave. as alternative.

The closing is due to the removal of several murals along the trail's embankment which forms the dog park's southern wall and contains lead paint, officials from the project have said previously.

The walls and viaducts that make up the 2.7-mile elevated trail run through the Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park neighborhoods.

The trail, peripheral entrances and parks such as a park at Milwaukee Avenue and Leavitt Street which opened last month comprise a broader "606" project.

Groundbreaking for the project kicked off in August.

An online notice posted Thursday on the 606 project website says the 100-year-old embankment walls will be "fully tented to provide complete safety during the removal of lead paint."  

Fencing will also go up at all of the trail's ground-level parks to create construction access points to the Bloomingdale Trail, the update said.

On Thursday, Brian Tolsma and girlfriend Melisa Stockwell were playing with Jake, their 6-year-old black lab Golden Retriever mix, on a grassy field adjacent to Churchill's dog park

Tolsma called the temporary closure "a bummer because we live so close to the park," but added, "We'll accommodate."

"I'm excited about the the trail and have done some running up there. It's worth the sacrifice of going without the park for the good of the trail," Tolsma said.

Tolsma said he exercises Jake in the park about five days a week.

Eva Bergant, a former president of the Churchill dog park and its current treasurer, said she's currently trying to figure out what to do with a sculpture of a dog with wings that was in the park. The sculpture, made out of recycled metal and found objects, is called "Scrappy, the Guardian Angel of the Dog Park."

Scrappy was there even before the murals went up but "nature has taken its toll" on the sculpture, according to Bergant, who said Scrappy will need to be removed.

Bergant said she does not plan to take her dogs to Wicker Park's dog park during the closure and plans to take them on longer walks around the neighborhood for exercise.

Bergant predicted Wicker Park's dog park will eventually be too crowded "when dogs from Churchill as well as Walsh Park go there" during the trail's construction.

Walsh Park's dog park at 1722 N. Ashland Ave. is expected to close at some point during the construction as well, though not on Monday.

"When the number of dogs increases the activity level does too and it's not always safe for dogs and people," Bergant said.