South Side dog park's future unclear

Tuesday, July 18, 2017 07:10PM
Inside the aptly named Jackson Bark, tails are wagging and the dogs? owners are smiling too.


CHICAGO - Inside the aptly named Jackson Bark, tails are wagging and the dogs' owners are smiling too.

"It has the agility course, everything you pretty much need," said dog owner Marshall Jones.

"You're right across from the lake. When it's really hot out you get the lake breeze," added another regular, Lenda Mason.

But the obstacle courses located behind the Museum of Science and Industry may soon disappear if the city builds a new Tiger Woods golf course on this very site.

"I hope they don't tear this park down. If they do, I hope they move it somewhere nearby and work something out with us because it's a terrible thing to just lose this park altogether," Jones added.

This is all the more frustrating for South Side residents because Jackson Bark is the only local spot where their dogs can roam free. The next farthest south option is at 1611 S. Wabash Ave. Plus, in the city's eyes Jackson Bark is not an official park.

"I love dog parks, been to them all. They're great for them, they're great for people. We should have at least one, we don't even have one," said the park's creator, Todd Agosto.

He lives in Woodlawn but used to drive north of Randolph St., into the Loop, for the closest dog park.

Then about three years ago he noticed a set of rundown tennis courts along Lakeshore Drive, with four in worse shape than the rest.

"There was weeds and vines and glass and messed up hinges," he recalled.

So he cleaned the lot, melding together whatever old street signs and building material he could find, to create Jackson Bark. Agosto still spends an hour a day at the park, letting his pooches play while he fine tunes the space.

Jackson Bark has a lot of what dog owners would be looking for in a park like this. There's plenty of space for the dogs to play, doggy bags for clean up, and two layers of fence to make sure everybody stays safe.

It's become a popular place for many- even Ald. Leslie Hairston, 5, brings her dog to play. And she says that doesn't have to change if the community speaks up at the golf project's planning meetings.

"People are given the opportunity and we take the opportunity to take the comments that people make at these meetings," Ald. Hairston said, emphasizing that the golf course's exact location has not been finalized.

But Agosto worries that working with the park district would be too much of a hassle based on conversations he's had with other dog park advocates.

"They were telling me all these horror stories they have to go through, bureaucracy involved and fundraising, it just goes on forever," Agosto explained.

ABC 7 reached out to the city for comment and received an email from the Chicago Park District reading in part:

"While the final plan has not been complete, the Chicago Park District is committed to replacing the dog park should it require relocation."

Ensuring these paws... stay in stride.
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