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All Dogs Go to Oak Forest: Park Set to Open Soon

The Bark For Your Park Committee held an open meeting Aug. 27, at Oak Forest's City Hall to discuss the soon-to-open dog park and take suggestions from residents on what exactly the park should offer.

It's nearly time to bust out the leashes and head to the new dog park in Oak Forest, near 160th and Oak Park Avenue. But, there's still a few weeks of planning and construction that must be completed before the park opens, in late September or October.

While work—including pouring a concrete patio area and installing fencing—is still ongoing, Alderman Laura Clemons led a Bark for Your Park committee meeting on Aug. 27, to outline the progress on the park.

“We've been surveying, the fence is just about up, they've split it, they've framed out the concrete patio and they've laid the cement for the posts for the gated in-and-out,” Clemons said.

More than 30 people attended the meeting, which also featured a fluid flow of suggestions from residents, for features and questions including sponsored benches or bricks, to how many dogs a person can bring in at one time, to items that could be stored at the park.

The park's seven acres will be divided into two separate areas: one for large dogs and one for smaller dogs.

“It will be split and it will be split for small and large [dogs],” Clemons said. “The gate in-and-out system is really well thought-out. You walk in, there's the holding section, you go to the right for the small and to the left for the large and then there's a separate out gate, so there's not a big mish-mosh.”

She added that the park will have a limit of 250 on the number of permits issued for the park. Clemons said that a potential fee for the permit is still up in the air and that it will not be limited to Oak Forest residents.

The park will be built at Bremen Grove, Cook County Forest Preserve land. Commitee members will manage the park.

“We will be the stewards of the project so to speak,” she said. “It will be their property, their land and we'll be working in partnership with them to manage it.”

She also added that the cost of the park will not increase any tax levies to residents and that the management of the park will be run through fundraising, along with the $25,000 prize from the Bark for Your Park contest.

The park is set to open in late September or early October; no exact date has been set.

Michael M. August 31, 2012 at 07:09 PM
Bobbo, you are lost in a haze, but your almost right about one thing. If they decline the contest money then they do not have to follow the rules of the contest. I think we agree on that. But, it brings up the issue of tax payers paying for something and not being able to use it, having limit of 250 for example, leaves out all the others who paid but do not get a benefit. What they should have done was use private land, private money and they could do whatever they wanted, but once you use public funds, it must be open to the public. Would you like to pay for something and not be able to use it or get the benefit?
Michael M. August 31, 2012 at 07:12 PM
If they do accept the money, and Laura Clemons has confirmed this at the meeting, there will be the limitations on permits and a fee imposed because the FPD is imposing them. So you are wrong on that. Either get the FPD to follow the rules of the contest, or do not use the FPD.
Michael M. August 31, 2012 at 07:18 PM
People who visit from out of state that use the fire and police do not pay taxes here. Which is a ironic, I was at the site on Monday, and there were two guys walking a dog inside the fenced area. They cleaned up after the dog and we started talking about the park, turns out they are from Ohio!!, Our first visitors to the park didn't pay a dime for that park, but used it already!!!
Bobbo August 31, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Michael, with all due respect, I think you are the one lost in a haze. I will at least wait to see what the answer is until I rant and rave about not being able to use the park. I think I wrote at least 3-times, the FPD is reviewing the number of permits. I guess even if there were 1000 permits and 1001 people would want to use it, they would have to address the situation at that time, but I see no point (for my own mental stability) worrying about something until I know what the answer is. I can't imagine the County turning down any permit fees to tell you the truth as long as there is not a problem with overcrowding and safety of those using the parks. Perhaps there will be something in place to monitor the use. In my own opinion, I doubt there will be too many people signing up for permits than permits allowed. Perhaps the FPD came up with the 250 number based on the dog parks they already own and operate. I do not know where they came up with that number, but regardless, the dog park committee has already seen that as a potential problem, and they are addressing it. Lets give them kudos for that.
Bobbo August 31, 2012 at 07:36 PM
People who visit from out of state most often do not bring their houses with them. If they are provided ambulance service, they are charged. If they are using police services because they committed a crime, they are charged. If they are using emergency services they are paying taxes somewhere, but I guess you got me there. I don't think space aliens pay any taxes when they come to earth, but they are afforded comfy services in Area 51. Mike, now I understand why people have stopped answering you. You would argue with me that 2 does not follow 1. I know there is an infinate amount of numbers between 1 and 2, but the fact sill remains, somewhere after 1, 2 will follow. There is nothing that is 100% black and white. There are exceptions to every fact and issue, but the people here are trying to answer you. You are correct that the dog park people cannot get their cake and eat it too. A decision must be made. Until that point, I will wait for the answers. Being suspicious of everything will be a hard way of living. I will say a prayer for you that you will find peace sometime in your life. Mine is too short to argue with you anymore. I'm on my way to Jack Frost right now. Did you know they close after this weekend?
Michael M. August 31, 2012 at 07:50 PM
Your hopeless. You never address the real issues. The issue is that no one should be turned down, they all paid for the park. What about that do you not understand? Hey, will there be a limit at the old times picnic? Are they going to turn people away? No they wont, because everyone paid for the picnic.
interested August 31, 2012 at 08:31 PM
No you can't use all of those. Many park district classes have a class size limit. The basis of your argument, as I understand it, is, if there are tax dollars used for something, it should be free and there should never be a permit required. If you are going to have a group picnic in the forest preserve, you have to apply for a permit. There are a finite number of permits available. Having limits is not new for a public venue. The goal here is to have a nice amenity for the many dogs and dog owners in the Southland. The support for it has been overwhelming. We are grateful for everyone's hard work and look forward to using the park.
interested August 31, 2012 at 08:42 PM
Yes I may. But I would never complain if they imposed fees to use the heritage site. Or had pre-requisites to participate in certain programs there. We're sorry you thought you were getting a free dog park. You are getting a dog park nonetheless. You can take $25,000 off your tax bill if the contest money is used. Whether you do or don't, the FP will still be collecting what they want and deciding how to hand out permits.
Michael M. August 31, 2012 at 08:54 PM
How will you feel if they say that only 250 permits would be issued for the heritage site and you can not go to or use the site because you do not have a permit. That would be excluding you, but yet you have paid for it. I am not against a fee, except that the conditions to accept the prize money precludes us from charging a fee, therefore the prize money should not be accepted.
Tired of the B.S. August 31, 2012 at 09:18 PM
@Michael OK we get it. I think we all know how you feel. How about you let it go until a decision is made and all the facts are known. You are now posing hypothetical scenarios. What if it starts to rain and never stops...what if the sky turns red...what if , what if, ... What if you wait to hear what the decision will be and then you can base your argument on the facts instead of what ifs.
Tracey D August 31, 2012 at 10:56 PM
Hey Bobbo, I did a lot of work too. I never knew about this until the last few months. My husband & neighbors didn't know. The businesses I went to didn't know either. I got all of the rescues I work with involved, some vet clinics & a couple of animal shelters involved too, plus FB friends to amount to a few thousand votes worth. I made my own signs up. I didn't get any thank you for it. My reward was the chance to win this dog park. So don't go telling me to thank Clemons & I should've helped more. I work 35hrs a week, I'm a pre-med student, have a house & 3 dogs to take care of on top of a immunosupressed husband yet I still made time to get the word out everyday. I didn't have a chance to go to any meetings since I'm so busy. That's why I TRUSTED my city officals to make the right decisions, which was sheer stupidity on my part. I actually expected there to be permits with a fee required for this park plus some of this to be tacked on to my taxes because lets be real, the city can say no but they will always mean yes. My beef is the fact that I pay for a school system for which I have no kids. But I have dogs, have to pay for a park for them and then not be able to use it because OF wants to be exclusive & only allow 250 permits on a dog park thats about 3 and a half football fields big. Rules are rules. The park is supposed to be for ALL to use! Why can't they do daily permits instead? Go to city hall & buy a pass for the day or the following day.
Michael M. August 31, 2012 at 11:11 PM
Tracey D- I think Bobbo is one of our elected officials, using another name. Just not willing to put their name to their beliefs.
Sam August 31, 2012 at 11:23 PM
Tracey- it is not the city of Oak Forest that is imposing the 250 permit limit. It is the FPD. As Bobbo stated, the comittee is trying to increase the amount.
Tracey D August 31, 2012 at 11:33 PM
I have a feeling OF knew about a possible permit limitation beforehand & chose to "wait and see' if we actually won first before dealing with the situation, as well as the committee members not seeming to be too interested because they've already secured permits for themselves....
Sam September 01, 2012 at 02:35 PM
No one has any permits. They have not been issued.
Tracey D September 01, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Yeah. I'm not buying that one. I'm sure there is a "waiting" list floating around already with the committee members names on it.
Sam September 01, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Where did you read that information?
Michael M. September 01, 2012 at 10:14 PM
I was at the meeting on the 27th, and Laura Clemons was asked is she could be bribed to get the committee members their permits. I think it was said as a joke. But, Laura did say she would do what she could to make sure the members got a permit. I took that as a serious statement.
relinquere nos solus September 02, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Wait, you mean to say that I donated money to the dog park and there is a chance that I might not get to walk my dog there because there will not be enough permits? When did that happen? It doesn't seem right to do that to people.
Elizabeth Tayner September 04, 2012 at 10:18 PM
REALLY disappointed that we may not even get to use the dog park. I certainly wouldn't have bothered voting or attending fund raisers if I knew this was gong to be a possibility. As usual, instead of a great experience for the community it has become a political firestorm. I truly hope that the permit situation can be changed to accommodate all who are interested. I find it a bit strange that there is no information available as to how much these permits will be and how person can get one. It's just a horrible shame.
interested September 05, 2012 at 02:11 AM
I hope that once things are sorted out, the park is getting finished and the rules become more clear that everyone has a chance to use the park. I think that there will probably be more than enough permits. I have no real information to base that on, but I have faith that everyone is trying to be as fair as possible with the process. I am planning to be patient and look for more information from the FP and or Oak Forest as decisions are made.
Michael M. September 07, 2012 at 08:48 PM
According to a comment posted on this article http://oakforest.patch.com/announcements/dog-park-progress; There will NOT be a limit on permits for the dog park, which is great news for everyone. That leaves the issue of the cost for the permits. Of course if we take the money from the contest, we need to make the permits free of charge. I believe that if the permits are free of charge, we will not have a problem getting donations, since permits will not be limited, we will have a greater pool of people who will be willing to donate for maintenance.
Michael M. September 15, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Any news on the fees? I had hoped to hear something by now. I did sign up for email notifications at the meeting, but I have not received anything as of yet.
Tracey D September 15, 2012 at 08:54 PM
I haven't heard anything either. Why am I not surprised???
Confused September 27, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Ms. Traut, Maybe you should contact PetSafe and ask them to elaborate because I see no grey areas in the rule that says it is to be available for use by the general public at no charge. Like I said in the past, asking for a suggested donation, but not requiring it, wouldn't break the rules. I'm sure many users would be happy to donate to make sure it's maintained properly for the safety of their dogs. I don't live in Oak Forest and I suspect that residents will get the first chance to sign up for the very limited number of permits you're offering. I would understand limiting the number of dogs in the park at one time but not limiting access altogether. When I voted for Oak Forest in the contest I expected to have access to the park with few restrictions, like proof of vaccination. If I had known it would be so difficult to get in I would have voted for Orland Park, maybe they would have handled it better.
Confused September 27, 2012 at 03:35 PM
She's already stated that vaccinations would be required.
Confused September 27, 2012 at 03:46 PM
I'm sorry, "poor dog owners" as in people with little money? I find that very insulting. I wouldn't consider myself poor but I'm certainly not rolling in money. My dog's health is a top priority for me and, as someone who worked many years with dogs and their owners, I have to say that most of the "poor" people that I encountered felt the same way. Also, just because someone is a "poor dog owner" doesn't mean they are incapable of following rules. In regards to charging fees for permits, it is against the rules of the competition, it is to be "available for use by the general public at no charge." I'm so disappointed in the way Oak Forest is handling this.
Confused September 27, 2012 at 04:00 PM
Interested, it's not a good thing but neither is completely ignoring the contest rules but expecting the money anyway. I don't live in Oak Forest but I voted for it because I expected to have access to the park since the rules say that it is to be open to the general public. Also, according to the rules, it is to be free to use. Yes, I expect fundraisers and donations to take care of the park. That being said I would be happy to donate because I want it to be in good shape for the health and safety of my dog. That is, if I get a hold of one of the few permits being offered.
Confused September 27, 2012 at 04:15 PM
I kind of agree with you about that because some people have both small and large dogs and might want them to get to play together. The main problem with it though is that the small ones may get hurt during play. I've experienced it, while playing in the yard my 90lb dog dislocated my 30lb dog's elbow, luckily I was able to quickly pop it back in place. I'm not saying large dogs couldn't hurt large and small couldn't hurt small, I'm just saying there is more weight behind it so one playful pounce from a large dog to a small one could cause more damage.
Confused September 27, 2012 at 04:25 PM
The point is that he is a member of the community and is trying to express his concerns before the decision is made so he can try to be a part of that decision. I'm not saying I always agree with him but I appreciate that he is getting involved and raising questions. Allowing something to come to fruition without knowing the facts is completely irresponsible.

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