MCKINLEY PARK — Dog owners in McKinley Park and Bridgeport are banding together in hopes of bringing a pooch park to the Southwest Side neighborhood.
"A lot of people take their dogs to the North Side to play at dog parks and there seems to be more dog-friendly businesses there. We're finding there is a community here that wants [a dog park] as a resource," said Angie Robertson, 32, of Bridgeport.
Robertson is spearheading the effort to bring a dog-friendly area — that's the city's term — to the eastern edge of the sprawling, 69-acre McKinley Park.
Across the city there are 21 designated "dog-friendly areas" in public parks, but none of them are exactly close to McKinley Park and the surrounding neighborhoods — the closest is Coliseum Park at 14th and Wabash, about 5 miles away.
To start their effort, Robertson and others have formed a committee, an offshoot of the McKinley Park Advisory Council, that will handle the lengthy application process to the Chicago Park District and begin collecting signatures on petitions.
The city requires a minimum of 50 signatures from households within a five-block radius of the proposed dog park location — in this case, an eastern stretch of the park that's intersected by Damen Avenue.
"We already have some support from people who live right around there," she said.
Already, an earlier, unofficial petition drive yielded nearly 125 signatures, thanks to a social media push. And the group will send around an online survey to gauge residents' interest in potential features of the park.
The whole process, she said, could take up to two years. That includes time to gather petitions, complete the paperwork and raise money for the park's completion.
And that's all contingent on whether or not the city even accepts the group's bid.
Like other dog owners, Robertson schleps her dog, Violet, a 10-year-old Doberman mix, to far-flung places like Montrose Beach and the suburbs to run free and play.
"Other than that it's just up and down the hallway of our condo," she said.
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