CHICAGO (CBS) — The entrance to a popular dog beach looks more like a treacherous ice skating rink; and even before the recent cold snap, Montrose Dog Beach looked more like an unsightly pond; a mass of flooded muck along the lakefront.
CBS 2 Morning Insider Lauren Victory uncovered a problem that won’t go away, no matter the season.
It wasn’t hard to convince a group of hearty dogs to come out in the cold, but getting to the frozen puppy playground at Montrose Dog Beach wasn’t exactly easy.
Add braving the ice to other access issues at the dog beach.
Paul Fehrenbacher said flooding is an issue right out of the gate.
“It’s not the ideal way to be greeted by Montrose Dog Beach,” he said.
Rising lake levels left much of the entrance to the dog beach underwater this summer, including Fehrenbacher’s self-serve dog-washing business “Mutt Jackson.”
“We had to actually curtail a lot of our events this season,” Fehrenbacher said. “Walking through standing water is not fun.”
That’s exactly what CBS 2 cameras spotted some dogs doing in mid-October, as unsightly brown bubbles floated just feet away.
Pictures posted on social media showed the miniature lake at the dog beach entrance lingered weeks later, despite repairs from the Chicago Park District.
In late July, crews took sand from Montrose Beach and filled the entryway to the dog friendly area to prevent ponding, but visitors were forced to use a detour again a few months later.
The sand repositioning did create a path alongside the wall surrounding the dog beach, but with all the ice there now, just don’t slip getting to it.
The Chicago Park District unlocked a single gate as an alternative entrance to the beach a few weeks ago, but some furry escape artists make the solution less than ideal.
“It’s frustrating, but there have been some important changes lately that give us hope that we’re going to solve the problem,” Fehrenbacher said.
The Chicago Park District has been in talks with MonDog, the park advisory council Fehrenbacher sits on.
“The long-term solution will eventually be to replace the boardwalk,” he said.
It’s possible the Park District will say doing that would cost too much money, but Fehrenbacher has an idea for that.
“Do a mosaic, where people could pay a nominal amount to have a picture with their dog, or just their dog, and build beautiful imagery, and raise funds to improve the dog beach,” he said.
The Park District told CBS 2 it would “greatly value support” from the community as it battles erosion and flooding problems all along the lakefront.
Last month, the Park District launched a drone to get a better look at the shrinking coast. Officials said they’re assessing damage from rising lake levels, and searching for solutions with help from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.