Dog park coming to McKinley Park
November 2, 2017

Photo courtesy YoChicago
Churchill Park on the North Side features a dog friendly area. McKinley Park now is slated to receive its own dog park.

Chicago’s biggest dog park is coming to McKinley Park at 2210 W. Pershing Rd. The 15,000 square foot dog area will sit just west of McKinley’s gymnastics center.

“A preliminary concept has been given to the McKinley Park dog park committee for their review,” said Claudine Malik of the Chicago Park District’s planning department.

Alderman George Cardenas (12th Ward) said he and community residents “are all very excited about this dog park” and believe it will be completed soon.

Michael Hixenbaugh, area manager of the park district’s central region 5, noted, however, that the park “is in the very early stages of development. At this point there is no scheduled date for completion.”

The South Side has lagged behind the North Side in dog park facilities. Currently, Coliseum Park at 1466 S. Wabash Ave. is the southernmost dog park in the city. Officials are planning another dog park at 9801 S. Avenue G in the Calumet Park community.

The effort to bring a dog park to McKinley Park began three years ago. A subcommittee of the McKinley Park Advisory Council initiated fundraising and planning for the dog park a year ago. The subcommittee has four officers: Angie Robertson and Carina Trudell, co-presidents; Min Huang, treasurer; and Adriana Perez, secretary. Subcommittee meetings are open to the public, and community members are welcome to attend.

According to Robertson, McKinley needs a dog park because “the park is already heavily visited by dogs and their walkers/owners.” The dog park will benefit the community by offering the opportunity for dogs to learn socialization skills, for their owners and walkers to meet other community residents, and for people to spend quality time with their pets.

The park likely will have designated areas for smaller and larger dogs, Robertson added.

She said the Chicago Park District has estimated the McKinley Park dog park will cost $125,000, although she suspects “the actual amount may be higher.” 

The subcommittee has been raising funds via sales and donations at the McKinley Park Farmers Market, whose last day for this season was Sept. 24. Donations also can be made online.

The subcommittee is considering other fundraising methods and “intends to pursue corporate sponsors,” Robertson stated. “We are amenable to naming the entire or portions of the dog park after major donors. It depends on the size of the donation.”

The subcommittee also wants to see aesthetic components in the dog park’s design, in addition to what the park district recommends. Among their ideas is a mural wall, where local artists and neighborhood children can express their talents.

Once the dog park opens, the group will form a volunteer maintenance committee for its upkeep, Robertson said. All dog parks in the city rely on volunteer maintenance teams.

McKinley Park opened in 1902 and proved so popular that the City doubled its size in 1906 to 69 acres. Outdoor activities at McKinley include swimming, artificial turf soccer, baseball, ice skating, and basketball. Workers renovated its playground in 2014, and the park features an interactive water spray, gymnastics center, gymnasiums, kitchen, auditorium, and meeting rooms.

For more information about the McKinley Park dog park or to make online donations, visitwww.mckinleydogpark.org. For general information about McKinley Park, visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com, select parks, and click on McKinley Park.

—Marie Balice-Ward