Just days before the unveiling of Maggie Daley Park's ice skating ribbon, the Chicago Park District announced dogs will not be welcome to the Lakeshore East park upon its Spring 2015 grand opening.
More than 10,000 people call the neighborhood of Lakeshore East home, many of whom are dog owners.
Residents told NBC 5 they were repeatedly assured during development of the $62 million park that pets would have access. It was only recently they learned the decision had been reversed.
“If you want to designate an area where dogs can’t go, fine by us, but an entire park?” Lakeshore East resident Kimerly Soenen said.
The Chicago Park District explained in a statement to NBC 5 the project has been years in the making and its plans simply evolved over time.
“The Park District determined that dogs would not be allowed in Maggie Park because there are already two dog parks nearby at Lake Shore East Park and South Grant Park,” said Kiera Ellis, Chicago Park District assistant press secretary. “This policy is also in alignment with the no-dog policy of Millennium Park, a park of similar scope and size.”
One resident expressed her frustration stemming from that same point, noting it was unfair for both parks to not allow dogs, even though they would be leashed.
“Not everybody likes dogs but we all need to respect eachother,” dog owner Suzan Snook suggested. “Perhaps put another dog run in Maggie Daley Park which would have satisfied everyone.”
Supporters of the decision told NBC 5's Nesita Kwan the dog ban relieves the worry of dog owners not picking up after their pets properly, posing a health hazard to children.
Others argue the ban does not properly uphold the legacy of former Mayor Richard Daley's late wife.
“We all know Maggie Daley was an animal lover and wanted dogs in the park,” Beth Bryngelson said. “If Maggie Daley were aware she wouldn’t be happy.”
While Maggie Daley Park is not slated to officially open until Spring 2015, residents can get a first look Saturday with the opening of the park’s quarter-mile long ice skating ribbon.