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Controversial Artificial Turf Dog Park Opens Friday at Skinner Park

By Chloe Riley | July 30, 2014 5:35am
  Skinner Park's   artificial turf dog park   will open Friday, according to the city's park district.  
Skinner Dog Park
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NEAR WEST SIDE — A controversial dog park outfitted with artificial turf is set to open at Skinner Park Friday, according to the Chicago Park District.

Located across the street from Skinner at Loomis and Monroe streets on the Near West Side, the dog park has been highly sought by residents for more than a decade. 

But the final plans for the park caused a stir when they were proposed in 2012, and the Skinner Park Advisory Council opposed the park district's plan to use artificial turf, saying the fake lawn would require extra maintenance, could potentially damage dogs' paws when heated by the sun — and would literally stink.

Chloe Riley explains what has some residents so upset about the new dog park:

Plans to use artificial turf went ahead anyway, in spite of the nearly 1,500 signatures the council collected from neighbors claiming they weren't aware of the park's design plan. 

On Tuesday, the council's Executive Director May Toy said her group still didn't support the park and would not be taking responsibility for maintaining the turf. 

"I told the park district, 'We’re not going to do this when there’s been no community input into it,'" said Toy, who stressed the council is seeking its own dog park location in the area, but couldn't specify where.

Park District spokeswoman Jessica Maxey-Faulkner said a committee is being formed to care for the turf, but didn't provide more details.

While the entrance to the park was padlocked Tuesday, a few dogs and their owners lingered by the gate to get a look at the park, which has a cement walkway, eight benches and two large blue canopies surrounding patches of green turf.

Janina Cabizza, a dog walker, was standing outside the park with Shea, a two-year-old Australian Shepard. Cabizza, who owns a dog walking company that services the West Loop, said she's excited for the park and doesn't necessarily see the artificial turf as a deterrent.

"It's always sad when they use fake grass like that in there, but that's OK, it makes it look nice," she said.

And as far as park maintenance? 

"If the people around here are conscious and they want to have a nice environment, then they'll keep it clean," Cabizza said. 

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