Dog Park Nears Completion

After months of work, the new dog park near 160th and Oak Park Avenue is nearly complete.

Soon residents of Oak Forest, the surrounding area and their furry, four-legged friends are going to have a new place to play.  After months of work by the Cook County Forest Preserve District and the Bark for a Park Committee, opening day of the dog friendly park at Bremen Grove is finally near.

Although an official opening date hasn't been finalized, Cook County Forest Preserve spokesperson Karen Vaughan said the park should open in mid-November.

Vaughan said that the dog park isn't something that the Forest Preserve District would generally take on, but after hearing from residents in the area, it made sense to look into developing a dog park in the South Suburbs.

“During the process of developing the Oak Forest Heritage Master Plan, which is next to the health center campus, we heard from a lot of residents who wanted to see a dog park in the Southland,” she said. “After looking at it, we determined that site wasn't the appropriate place, but we did agree we would work with them and look at some other sites, so that's how this particular site was chosen.”

She added that the site will be based off of a similar dog park in Des Plaines, which currently has 750 users. Vaughan said that the Des Plaines park, just like the future Bremen Grove park, is a permit-use only area.

Previously, at a Bark For Your Park committee meeting members were told that 250 permits will be issued for the park. However, the park district has since revised that statement, noting that they will meet the demand of all interested parties. Applications are currently being accepted and are available through the forest preserve district's website.

On the Forest Preserve District's website, permits are listed at $50 per dog for Cook County residents, while out of county residents will pay $100 per dog. The permit is good from Oct. 12, 2012 through Sept. 30, 2013. The district is currenly accepting checks made payable to the Cook County Forest Preserve District, or Visa or Mastercard.

All dog owners requesting a permit must also submit a veterinarian’s health report on for each dog on the application.

As for the working relationship between the committee and the Forest Preserve District, Vaughan said that it's been a driving force for getting the dog park completed. Money won by the group during a PetSafe contest will not be used for the park, however $11,000 in funds raised by the group will be used for amenities within the park. 

“I think from our perspective, having an active, engaged group of citizens and residents who wanted something like this, was key in determining that we could do it there,” she said. “We couldn't have done it without them.”

Tired of the B.S. October 05, 2012 at 08:19 PM
Why don't we take the money and use it for what it was meant for, building or renovating a dog park in Oak Forest? Since there is no park to renovate, the money should be used to build one in Oak Forest, for the use of the general public at no charge. That was the plan that I thought we were voting for. It is great that the FPD will build a dog park near Oak Forest, but they will charge a fee of $50 a year. This was not something that I, and I think many others, would have voted for if we had known what would happen the the prize money. Take the money, but only if it will be used in Oak Forest for a dog park that can be used for free.
Tired of the B.S. October 08, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Hey Lauren, Laura, or Chuck, Could anybody explain why the money raised for a dog park in Oak Forest ($11,000) will be given to the FPD for a dog park in Tinley Park? I realize that the FPD is going to build a dog park, but I thought the money was to go for a park that would be free to use, not one that costs $50.00 a year to use. A lot of people donated money and time because a free dog park was promised, not a FPD park that requires a fee.
Laura Clemons October 08, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Hi Tired - if you've been following this project along since the beginning, you will remember that we scouted various locations in the city for a potential park - while at the same time opening up discussions with the FPD for a potential park in the Southland that would benefit the residents of OF and surrounding areas. The FPD was open to the idea because of the dedication of the residents who wanted a park in their community, and by combining resources, the two bodies could come together to create a park that was top notch - something that we could never have done ourselves. If you've seen the site, you'll know what I'm talking about. And as the article states, the FPD had no intention of building a park in the Southland without the commitment of the OF volunteer group. The agreement between our city group and the FPD is that they make will make the commitment to the project, and our group will add our funds for additional amenities - benches, waste cans, waste bags, etc. This was all in the works before the Petsafe contest. The FPD did not commit 100% to the project until AFTER the contest was just about over. Since the FPD has the rules and regulations in place that would not allow the group to add the winnings to the project, we are now looking to work with the Park District for another off leash area that will comply with the Petsafe rules (i.e. free) and can be funded with the prize money. Hope that helps answer your question.
Michael M. October 09, 2012 at 01:35 AM
Why did the taxpayers pay over 77,000 dollars to build the current dog park? If we get another off leash area that is free, then it stands to reason that no one would use the current park that has a permit fee. Won't the taxpayers be on the hook to build the second park? The 25,000 dollars from PetSafe will not be enough to build a second comparable park since we already know what the first park cost to build; that means the taxpayers will be paying again. I remember when Laura told us that this would not cost the taxpayers a dime. Well, so far you have used taxpayer dollars for the first park and wasted it. http://oakforest.patch.com/articles/dog-park-crew-reaches-tentative-agreement-with-forest-preserve Laura Clemons 12:26 pm on Friday, May 4, 2012 All of the funds that will be used for this project were raised by a group of hardworking Oak Forest residents and volunteers who want to see a dog park in their community. Not one penny of Oak Forest Residents tax dollars has been nor ever will be used for the dog park.
Darnell October 09, 2012 at 12:05 PM
Typical political gobbilty gook and backtracking! Typical!!!
Tired of the B.S. October 09, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Thanks for your answer and for your work on the dog park(s). I am glad that you will still be working to get a no-fee dog park in Oak Forest. I know this will sound kinda crazy, but what about the large retention pond areas, like the one in Vergne Way Park or the one in Central Park. Some fencing to keep people and dogs out of any dangerous areas would be necessary, but not much else. The one in Central Park is already fenced in. I know, crazy, but.....
Elizabeth Tayner October 12, 2012 at 02:55 PM
Personally, I'm quite happy that there is a dog park opening up near my home, whether it's Oak Forest or Tinley Park or Cook County Forest Preserve. I also think that CCFPD is worthy of my $50- per dog fee. The park will need to be maintained, grass cut, garbage removed etc. Certainly no one is being forced to pay for a permit, so if you don't want to or can't afford it, simply don't pay it. It's great that people can voice their opinions in this forum, I just wish that every single opinion wasn't a complaint! I thank everyone who has worked on this project. I sent the application for my two dogs already!
Michael M. October 12, 2012 at 06:27 PM
Elizabeth--Why would you want to pay a fee to use the dog park when the dog park committee promoted the dog park as free to anyone who wants to use it, said no taxpayer dollars would be used to build it, called on all to support the dog park and vote in the contest that landed them second place with $25,000 for the dog park and the rules of the contest REQUIRE the dog park to be open and free to the general public? IT is not free to use as they said it would be and in violation of the contest rules and they used $7,000 dollars of taxpayer money to build the park, you have already paid to use it. Now they want to build a second park that will be free? Which park do you think will be used, the free one or the pay park? They wasted our money and were not honest with us.
Elizabeth Tayner October 12, 2012 at 07:38 PM
Here is my point. I'm not here to complain about the politics or policies involved. I'm saying I'm glad to have use of the dog park and I'm willing to contribute for its use and upkeep. If another park gets built all the better! (But, another park will require maintenance and upkeep as well. How will that be provided?) My opinion is that this is a good thing for the community.
Michael M. October 12, 2012 at 11:46 PM
You should complain, it is costing you more money than it should. You pay taxes to the county and those taxes were used for this project after we were told our taxes would not be used. And the maintenance and upkeep that you speak of will cost money, for both parks weather it is donated or through taxes. Usually what happens in these situations, is that the novelty wears off and the volunteers volunteer less, the donations become less and then the county will step in and provide the service, which will be our tax dollars; they may even have to raise taxes or add a tax because the parks were not a budget item, the money has to come from somewhere. Now we are facing the possible cost of two parks.
Elizabeth Tayner October 13, 2012 at 02:38 AM
I'm sure tax dollars are spent on causes less worthy than this one. I think it makes the area even more desirable. I intend to enjoy it. I'm sorry that so many people are so unhappy about, but certainly not everyone can be pleased all at once.
Michael M. October 13, 2012 at 05:36 AM
The worthiness doesn't matter. We were told by Laura Clemons that no tax dollars would be used for this project, then when no one is looking they use our tax dollars. If you go to a fast food restaurant and order a burger with a posted price of $3.00, would you be upset if they told you that it would now cost you $6.00? It is the same thing, we were told one thing and they did another.
Elizabeth Tayner October 13, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I'm sure I've read many times that NO TAX DOLLARS were used in this project. If Cook County Taxes were used that's something Laura Clemons can't very well control, can she... And again, I'm SURE Cook County uses tax dollars for lesses causes. If I'm to complain about something, I'm sure I could find better things than a dog park. I think it's good for the community, people will be drawn to it, maybe it will help local business. People will gather there, chat, get to know each other and we will have a more neighborly town. Plus, the dogs will probably like it.
Laura Clemons October 13, 2012 at 04:21 PM
No city of Oak Forest resources (taxes, manpower, etc.) have been used nor will be used for this park. The Oak Forest all volunteer contribution to this project will be any funds donated to the cause from fundraisers, donations, etc., and that's why the group is working so hard to raise funds. The Petsafe funds will not be used on this project, in compliance with the rules of the contest. The FPD chose to make an investment in the project due to the overwhelming dedication of the volunteers and residents who wanted a park in the community, and the FPD mission is to provide recreational opportunities, conservation efforts and maintenance of over 69,000 acres of land in Cook County with your Forest Preserve tax dollars. The FPD stated that they looked at our area and at a location in the Palos area for a dog park amenity in the Southland, and I'm glad they chose to invest their resources (not city of OF tax dollars, but their resources) in our area instead of Palos. I guess Michael, when this started, I should have dotted every "i" and crossed every "t" when I said "no tax dollars" and should have said "no Oak Forest tax dollars or resources" instead - which in the end is still a true statement. No Oak Forest resources (other than donations and funds raised privately) have been or will be used for this County FPD investment in our community and for the entire Southland. Elizabeth, I hope to meet you someday at the park!
Michael M. October 13, 2012 at 05:03 PM
You are darn right you should have dotted every "i" and crossed every "t"!! You are not using your money it is OUR money, the taxpayers. You never said no OF tax dollars would be used, you said no taxpayer dollars would be used, so your statement is no where near true. Everyone in OF pays county taxes and those taxes paid for the dog park. Now you are asking the community to support two dog parks. How will that be built? Will we be told one thing and sold another again? Take responsibility when you are using OUR money for these projects. I would also say that OF tax dollars were used, namely with the video that was used for the Petsafe site, you used OUR police officer and dog, OUR police cruiser and the gas, OUR city hall and resources. OF taxpayer pay for all of that. I am not against a dog park or other amenities, I am against irresponsible fiscal projects and public servants, this project should have been thought out in a much better manner, hell, you guys couldn't even follow the contest rules and people like me had to bring them to your attention, and I did that so that we would be able to collect the winnings and to make sure that what you told the community about the dog park would be true.
Elizabeth Tayner October 13, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I hope to meet you there someday too, Laura! Looking forward to getting my permits and to Opening Day! Will there be a ribbon cutting or anything? I'll even donate the ribbon and scissors!
Tired of the B.S. October 13, 2012 at 05:44 PM
Micheal M. You sure seem to be really concerned about the dog park. How many meetings concerning the dog park have you attended? How much of your time have you invested in any way, shape , or form (except for complaining about the dog park) in this project? What have you personally done (again, except complain) to help or to stop this project? Do you even have a dog or are you complaining just for the heck of it? Maybe if you would spend as much energy trying to come up with some helpful ideas as you do complaining, we could have a dog park in Oak Forest that we could be proud of. You are right about 1 thing, it is OUR money and it looks like OUR money is being looked after (in this case). So maybe you should try to be a part of a solution and offer some positive suggestions. Or you could keep complaining and get nowhere.
Michael M. October 13, 2012 at 07:58 PM
Tired-I can't be any clearer, you either agree with me or you don't. Me and my family voted for the dog park multiple times, I donated money at the dog wash and didn't even have my dog washed, I just donated. If you don't care about your money being wasted that is your issue, I for one care. Just remember how they keep adding taxes, like the 1% tax, the base water fee, oh and don't forget they are talking about raising the water rates again. The more the city or county spends, the more we have to pay in taxes.
Michael M. October 13, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Also, some credibility would be nice. Do what you say and say what you mean. Don't bait and switch by telling us no tax dollars will be used, and then use tax dollars. Then they want to parse words and explain after the fact that is not what they meant. Don't look now, but they are peeing on your leg, but will tell you it is raining.
Laura Clemons October 13, 2012 at 08:37 PM
I am sorry Michael that you feel that your money is being wasted. As I said before, the FPD mission is to provide for it's taxpayers recreational opportunities, conservation efforts and maintenance and beautifying of their 69,000 acres of land. If the FPD didn't do any of those, they wouldn't need any tax dollars, and the land would sit there, unused. In this case, they chose to provide a recreational opportunity in our backyard, in our community. As for maintenance, these types of amenities are designed to be self-sustaining, and the user fees collected pay for maintenance, upkeep, etc and to recoup the cost of the initial investment. In addition, volunteers have committed to help monitor and clean the park (at no cost to you). As for being responsible with your money, I am the person who is accounting for every single dime being donated to this effort by the people attending fundraisers (and thank you for your dog wash donation - we raised $2,263.00 at that event. I report the balances to the bark for a park committee of dedicated volunteers at every meeting. Now as for the video, the gentleman who filmed the video is an OF resident, retired, and used to own a video recording business. He donated his equipment and editing skills to the effort. Off. Vodnik and Orry participated on their day off. City Hall was used for a short time when the building was closed for business, and volunteers cleaned up afterwards.
Michael M. October 13, 2012 at 09:27 PM
Laura-It seems no matter what anyone says you will not accept it. 1-Did you post that no taxpayer dollars would be used for this project? YES you did 2-Were taxpayer dollars used for this project-YES. The donations and the contest winnings were supposed to pay for the park to be built, Did that happen? NO The dog park has cost the taxpayers $77,000 that would not have been spent or would have been spent on something else. The county now has to replace that money. I do not really care how much you raise, I hope you raise more in the future, but this process was wrong. You broke your word, you lost your credibility. If and when you get the second dog park going, how will we be able to believe it will be done the way you say it will? This is not a fight about a park, it is about honesty, don't tell us one thing and do another. When you knew that circumstances had changed you should have informed the general public so we could make the decision if we wanted to use our tax dollars, I may have even said it would be OK to do that, but I am not OK with it being done without my knowledge. Has anyone thought about what will happen to the current park if you build a second park that is free to all? Will people stop using the current park, after all why pay when you can use the other park for free? Will the current park deteriorate from lack of use and care? Wouldn't that be a waste of taxpayer dollars to have that happen? I do not think I can say anymore to be more clear.
Laura Clemons October 13, 2012 at 10:13 PM
1. did I say no taxpayer dollars will be used? YES I did. And, as I mentioned in the post above this one, when this was a CITY effort only (the FPD was not in the picture at this time) that is what we swore to. And, as I said above, NO city funds were used for this project. 2. Have taxpayer dollars been used for this project? YES, the FPD district made the decision to invest in our community because of the interest and dedication of our residents and surrounding communities. I did not force them to decide to build here - they did that all by themselves. I do believe I did acknowledge these things in several posts. I apparently didn't answer them to your satisfaction. 3. The donations thus far ($11,000) WILL be used for this park - mentioned several times already - for benches, waste stations, garbage cans, etc. The Petsafe winnings will not be comingled with these already raised funds. As for circumstances changing, the discussions with the FPD were open and communicated every step of the way, this was no secret. None of us on the committee heard a complaint from anyone asking us to STOP negotiating with the FPD, as a matter of fact, they encouraged us to continue to work with the FPD. As for the Petsafe funds, I've mentioned before, we have started discussions with the Park District to see how to create another off leash park (will it be 7 acres? Nope, we don't have that kind of open space) that will meet the contest rules.
Laura Clemons October 13, 2012 at 10:31 PM
And Michael, I welcome you to join the committee so that you can keep an eye on us and make sure that we are acting in the best interests of this community. When the discussions begin (at the first of the year) on how to spend the Petsafe winnings, I welcome you to take the lead - and work with the other volunteers. As for "what will happen" in the future, you surely cannot believe that I have the ability to predict how many will join which park, how long they be will members, how many times they will use which park or who will use the park(s) at all. If I had those kinds of psychic powers, I'd be predicting the stock market and we'd all be rich. I will say, the FPD has a park in Des Plaines that has been in operation for 3 years now, and I'm told they issue over 750 permits every year for that location. Apparently, we can assume that lack of interest or lack of members is not a problem.
Elizabeth Tayner October 14, 2012 at 02:26 PM
So, it seems to me that CCFPD was going to build a dog park regardless. How lucky for us that they chose our neighborhood instead of one far away! Cook County is a big place and I'm sure that many communities would gave been grateful to have it! (If only we could vote on exactly how each and every one of our tax dollars were spent... but we can't.) I'm grateful that CCFPD didn't decide to take their business elsewhere!
nancy hullinger October 14, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Michael Merino you have to be the most negative person in Oak Forest. The dog park group makes all the decisions as a group. But you don't know that because you didn't go to all the meetings. You did go to one, to complain. The dog park group is the Hardest Working, Honest group of volunteers this city has EVER had. Never seen you volunteering. I'm glad the FPD built this beautiful dog park on the south side, so close to many communities. As your claim OF tax dollars were misused, as I see only the gas from officers Reids car wasn't covered. I will donate $10 to the city to cover that. Everything else was donated. But you weren't at the making of the video so you don't know. Can't wait to see you at our meetings and fundraisers ( we are having one today 10/14). But I don't think you have the guts to show up! It's so easy to complain from you basement.
Michael M. October 14, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Nancy Hullinger-Negative has nothing to do with it. I am looking out for our tax dollars, the county tax dollars that were used. I have every right to express my opinion, just as you do, and I respect your right to express your opinion. I even respect your right to call me names or insinuate that I am a basement dweller, I have been called worse. On the other hand, you do not respect my right to state my opinion or you would not sink to the level of name calling. I would imagine that if I went to another meeting I would be called names for expressing my opinion, so I think I will pass. Also I did sign up for the email list at the meeting I did attend, and I have yet to receive any email from anyone on the committee, so it is apparent that I am not welcome. As long as one agrees with your viewpoint, they are welcome, if they do not agree, they are not welcome. How do you get the best ideas with a room full of people who can not have a differing opinion? As stated before I SUPPORT THE DOG PARK, but I do not support the process. I have the right to know how my tax dollars are used and to question any process that I do not understand or agree with. As a committee that is using my donation and tax dollars for the dog park, it is incumbent upon you to fulfill you fiduciary responsibilities to the community and inform us of the process and answer any questions that the community asks, even if you do not like the question.
Michael M. October 14, 2012 at 08:44 PM
As for the pup crawl today. It is my daughters birthday, so I am spending it with her.
Elizabeth Tayner October 14, 2012 at 11:07 PM
Michael, I would suggest you complain to the CCFPD since they are the ones who spent the tax dollars.
BUTCH October 14, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Some slug who runs the FORESTRY DIVISION or a consultant in the HIWAY DEPT who has three other jobs on the taxpayers dime but blows it all at the track
BUTCH October 15, 2012 at 12:08 AM
If you really are interested and they are betting you are not, study their Budget and do the foot work on how many people are actually on and in the positions they post in-the old days when MADIGGON'S puppet PHELAN and the 2 worthless Strogers they were hiding them as Adm Asst and recently consultants it has gotten a wee bit better but MADIGGON is still entrenched with patronage meaning it is real BS this is chump change and can be used for the stated purpose with transparency galore


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