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Jackson Bark Could Be Saved In Revised Jackson Park Golf Course Plan

By Sam Cholke | September 6, 2017 5:42am | Updated on September 8, 2017 10:50am
 There are now plans that could keep Jackson Bark where it is if a better spot can't be found in the park.
There are now plans that could keep Jackson Bark where it is if a better spot can't be found in the park.
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DNAinfo/Sam Cholke

HYDE PARK — More elements of golf course plans are getting shuffled around by planners in an effort to keep dog owners and golfers that currently use Jackson Park happy.

Officials working on the plan to combine the South Shore and Jackson Park golf courses said an expansion of the driving range is being tweaked so it doesn’t overtake an unofficial dog park built by neighbors out of scraps of wood and old barrels on a unused tennis court in Jackson Park.

Brian Hogan, director of the Chicago Parks Golf Alliance, which is helping raise money and design the golf course with the Chicago Park District, said there are now versions of the plan that extend the driving range to the south and leave Jackson Bark and the adjoining tennis courts untouched.

But it’s the Chicago Park District that gets final sign-off on the plans for the golf course and officials said they're staying open to keeping the dog park where it is, but want to find the best spot for dog owners.

Park District Supt. Mike Kelly said he’s talking to Ald. Leslie Hairston, whose 5th Ward includes the park, to find a solution for the dog park issue as a larger framework plan for Jackson Park is being developed.

“Golf is obviously important, but it’s one component of the larger framework plan, which is about getting it right for Jackson Park,” Kelly said.

Among the issues planners are grappling with is finding a spot that is more accessible for dog owners. The current location is the farthest spot in the park from homes in South Shore, Woodlawn or Hyde Park. It would also be cut off from parking in the park if a proposed visitors center is included in the plans for the park.

Kelly and Hogan declined to say other locations that are being considered for the dog park.

There are still issues of a nature sanctuary at the South Cultural Center that would be partially overtaken by golf that need to be solved and ongoing anxieties about the rates to play the new course that need to be solidified.

Hogan said they are still working on setting the rates.

He said planners are considering options that would allow local golfers to book tee times seven days in advance and allow others to reserve spots only two or three days in advance.

The Chicago Park District has committed to keeping a round of golf under $50 for locals and Hogan said officials are close to making that work.

He said the course could be financially sustainable if the 40,000 rounds of golf currently played on the two courses stays about the same and an additional 10,000 rounds are offered with some perks for $100.

Hogan said that would still have the course well under its capacity, which he said is estimated to be upward of 65,000 rounds a year.

The Chicago Park District is expected to update plans for the golf course at a series of public meetings on Sept. 21 and Sept. 25 at the South Shore Cultural Center.