How we got a dog park: community organizing for animals: Pawtowattomie Park


Due to a fluke of good timing,  infrastructure money availability, and a core of really  smart, committed people in my neighborhood of Rogers park  on the north side of Chicago, we got a dog park.  Let me explain how this  happened….

Our alderman, Joe Moore, in a fit of  generosity (to make up for  Tax Increment Financing fiascos?  not sure), decided to allow us to vote on  how to spend $1,000,000 of infrastructure money.

This money could not be spent on salaries for teachers, or supplies. It had to be spend on infrastructure.

Now, my community’s infrastructure is old.  Our streets constantly need resurfacing, but our community is composed of very interesting people, and among the proposals put forward were community gardens, street art…& the dog park.

We has several months to get this together, so we  first put up a facebook page. and  pooled some money to  print ‘palm cards’  These are  1/4 or an 8.5 x 11 in  sheet of paper (fits in the palm of your hand), and we spread out through out our ward (geographic area of about  2 x 2 miles) & handed cards to anyone we saw walking a dog. We also got  a local architect to do a graphic mock-up of our plan to present to voters. The most important thing we did was to find a host park that had the space and wanted us.  Not every ‘Host Park Manager’ wants dogs in the park. Why?  Dog poo, plain & simple. Dog owners tend to be libertarians.;They think their dog’s poop is organic & not offensive.

We all really wanted a dog park on the lake, but the Mayor at the time, Richie Daley, was not a dog lover, and the mayor appoints the park board. so, we had to compromise. The park district had some land at the north end of the ward, that was underutilized.  Or, rather,  miscreants were hangling out drinking &and doing drugs.  We got the approval of the Host Park Manager, and we got more votes than any other project (including street resurfacing).

Then we had to deal with the Chicago Park District.  With a few minor alterations, they approved our plan, but they told us they needed about $15,000 mo0re. So, we raised it. We had another commun8ity group act as our fiscal agent.   We are now having trouble getting an accounting, as it seems we should have about #$5-8,000 left, but we have to file a Freedom of Information Act request to get an accounting.  No joke. this is Chicago.

While some people are disappointed that we didn’t get a lakefront park, and others want a dog park at the south end of the ward, they refuse to ask us how we did this.  Better to reinvent the wheel.

The irony is,  most of the board members don’t use the dog park. Either our dogs are too aggressive towards o0ther dogs, or too shy!  It remains difficult to get active board members, but this is how democracy works:  y9u have to be involved!

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One Response to “How we got a dog park: community organizing for animals: Pawtowattomie Park”

  1. reasonedandy Says:

    Reblogged this on Katey's Keep.

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