Advisory Group: Horner Park Dog Park Still Years Away

By Mike Fourcher | Friday, October 19, 2012

Erica Beuter, of the Horner Park Advisory Council, presents dog area plans at last night’s 33rd Ward Advisory Council meeting. Peter Schlossman and Jaime Andretta sit on left. Credit: Mike Fourcher.

A planned dog area on the south end of Horner Park would be one of Chicago’s largest, but whether or not it will ever be completed is an open question, say leaders of the Horner Park Advisory Council.

“We’re so early in the process,” said advisory council dog park committee chair Erica Beuter, “There’s a lot we have to do.”

About thirty people attended the joint meeting of the 33rd Ward and the Horner Park Advisory Councils in a basement meeting room of the Horner Park field house to hear details on the proposed dog park.

The proposed fenced dog park, would be 1.89 acres and be covered with a special permeable artificial turf designed for dog use would be sited on the south end of Horner Park, aligned along Irving Park Rd. However, Park District guidelines for a new dog park require a one-year usage survey of the area and the District has not allocated any funding for the park’s expected $300,000 cost, meaning the park will likely be entirely funded by private donations.

Jaime Andretta, a staffer from Ald. Dick Mell’s (33rd) office says that while the Alderman supports the concept, there just is no public funding available. “This project is going to be 99.99 percent community driven and funded.”

However, the park’s fortunes may change over time, as a representative from Ald. Ameya Pawar’s (47th) office was at the meeting, and the park’s advisory council president, Peter Schlossman, says a community survey conducted last year showed, “over 90% support for the dog area.”

As the meeting progressed, community members present expressed concern that the creation of a dog area would restrict local dog owners from letting their dogs run unleashed in the larger park area. By law, dogs must be leashed at all times in parks, but Horner Park has an unwritten tradition of allowing the practice.

“Once you create this god park, you’re saying, this is where the dogs are supposed to go,” said one man.

Meeting attendees groused that other parks to the east, like Wrightwood and Hamlin Parks, have been “yuppified” with dog areas that do not allow dog owners and their pets to really enjoy the area unleashed.

Advisory council leaders countered with the fact that Roscoe Village’s Hamlin Park dog area is a mere 0.16 acres, less than a tenth of what Horner Park’s dog area would be. The Horner Park dog area would plenty of room for dogs to run and play catch.

Park District guidelines limit dog areas to be no larger than 3.5% of the total park area. Horner Park is 54 acres, one of Chicago’s largest grass parks.

Once the park advisory council decides to move forward with the dog area, it must conduct a one-year usage survey of the proposed area to ensure no vital uses would be displaced. Following this, the Park District will notify all residents within five blocks of the park of planned changes and allow for public comment. Then, with Park District approval, official planning can begin and the group can fundraise in earnest. Once the group has raised 75% of the necessary funds, the Park District will schedule construction.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Share this now!

  • http://spudart.org/ spudart

    I wish dog owners would realize that leashing your dog is for your dog’s safety and importantly, for the safety of other people. While I love dogs and I don’t mind dogs approaching me, I know of many people who are afraid when dogs approach them. We have leash laws for a reason, I wish people would respect those laws.

    • Steve D

      There are also laws that forbid cooking, drinking alcohol, and littering that are violated daily at Horner Park in the summer. I see people run stop signs, drive over the speed limit and not use their turn signals every day. I just ignore them because they are not bothering me or stopping me from using the park whenever I want

      • http://spudart.org/ spudart

        Yes, but people aren’t afraid of a hamburger running up and jumping on them. There are people that have legitimate fears of dogs running after them. Dog owners should respect those with those fears by leashing their dog.

        And people running stop signs should not be an excuse to let a dog run free. If we follow that logic, we would live in an anarchic society with no rules. We have stop signs for a reason. To save lives. We have dog leash rules for a reason, so people don’t have to live in fear of being attacked by a dog.

        It might sound crazy to a dog owner, because you love your dog. But truly, please, consider thinking about the perspective of someone who has a fear of dogs attacking them. What would you say to that person? Chill out? I have a friend who was taken down by a saint bernard who never attacked anyone before. She was taken down to the ground and had her arm mauled. That is why we have dog leash laws.

        Someone should not have to get 71 stitches in her arm because someone else’s unleashed dog attacks a stranger.

      • Guest

        People should not have to get 71 stitches in their arm because someone else’s unleashed dog attacks a stranger.

  • Pingback: Horner Park Advisory Council Revisits Dog Park Plans | The Center Square Journal

  • Steve D

    Horner Park is 55 acres – plenty of room for dogs and people. I have been walking my dog there for 12 years. Just go look at the other dog parks around the city – the astroturf curls up and stains after a few years – most of them are ugly eyesores. Why rip up the grass and replace it with astroturf. If the locals want to walk their dogs in an astroturfed pen they can get in their car and drive to one of 21 other dog parks around the city

Spread the word