Oak Forest Grabs 2nd Place, $25K in Dog Park Contest Finals

The Bark for your Park contest "brought the community together," said Alderwoman Laura Clemons.

Dog owners in Oak Forest have a reason to celebrate.

The totals are in and the won 2nd place—and a $25,000 prize—in the PetSafe Bark for your Park contest.

"We as a city and a dedicated volunteer group are thrilled to have won $25,000 in this contest,” said Laura Clemons, an Oak Forest alderwoman and head of the city’s dog park committee. “We’ve worked very, very hard and have had a lot of fun.

The contest results were posted to PetSafe's website Friday night. For three months, communities across the country battled for the grand prize of $100,000.

Texarkana, AR, won the grand prize. A second runners-up prize of $25,000 went to Derby, VT.

Contestants were whittled down from hundreds nationwide to 15 finalists, which include Oak Forest and Orland Park. Going into the last week of voting, which was hidden, Oak Forest held a strong 2nd-place position.

“I am thrilled to accept this prize from PetSafe, a fine company dedicated to improving the health, safety and welfare of domestic animals throughout the world,” said Mayor Hank Kuspa, in a prepared statement. “These funds will be used to develop and operate a dog park to be enjoyed by Oak Forest and neighboring communities.”

Oak Forest secured about 7 acres of Forest Preserve District of Cook County land for use as a dog park. The City will act as stewards of the dog park while the county will still maintain the land.

The PetSafe contest money will pay for amenities, such as benches and “poop stations,” Clemons said.

Oak Forest’s Bark for a Park committee already has raised about $11,000 through various fundraisers and events.

“This contest has brought the community together,” Clemons said.

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Jennifer Holt August 04, 2012 at 01:52 AM
So second place were still getting a dog park then? If so there it gonna be?
John Groskopf August 04, 2012 at 02:19 AM
my two dogs max and maya are overjoyed.they can.t wait to go!!!!!!!
lvent August 04, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Great job! I know this took a lot of hard work. Congratulations!
curious citizen August 04, 2012 at 04:04 AM
Is there going to be any type of registration with proof of vaccines to use the park? Or is it an open area for any random dogs to run free? That could turn into a disaster with dog fights or bites etc. Just wondering...
Amanda A August 04, 2012 at 01:21 PM
“This contest has brought the community together,” - Yes it surely has!
Laura Clemons August 04, 2012 at 01:34 PM
Curious - Yes, there are requirements that must be met in order to join a dog park. Proof of vaccinations is requirement #1. Members must provide veterinarian certificates that all vaccines are current before you are allowed access to the park.
Richard DeVries August 04, 2012 at 02:21 PM
Where is it going to be?
Laura Clemons August 04, 2012 at 04:03 PM
Hi Richard - we are in the end stages of negotiations with the Forest Preserve District for a 7-acre parcel located on 159th and Oak Park Avenue. This will be an inter-governmental agreement where the FPD will provide the land for the project, and our community group will be the stewards of the park. Our contribution will be the funds we've raised (and WON yesterday) and will provide benches, pavillions, trash cans, etc. It's a win/win for everyone! We are so looking forward to the opening (hopefully this fall)
Richard DeVries August 04, 2012 at 06:02 PM
Robin Randall August 04, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Congrats everyone! We were voting every day and posting on Facebook so even friends out of the area were voting! Thanks to Laura and the committee for bringing it all together perfectly going into this contest. Let us know what we can do to help moving forward.
Kathy Oboikovitz August 05, 2012 at 03:35 AM
What great news! My Mabel will be soooo happy. Thanks to Laura and her committee for your dedication in seeing this through. A great accomplishment for Oak Forest!!!
FergLi August 05, 2012 at 07:44 AM
159th & Oak Park - I will be interested to see how this is accessed from such a busy street area. Also how will foot traffic be controlled as local people want to walk there with their dogs and cut through our yards on Charleston Street?
cindy kramski August 06, 2012 at 01:27 AM
connect the park with the bike path....what is all the construction on the bike path on 159 th ridgeland anyway...does anyone know whats going on there.
Michael M. August 06, 2012 at 05:06 AM
And after those funds have been depleted, how will it be funded? There is going to be ongoing maintenance issues that will need funding. Are we sure that there is not going to be any tax dollars used for this now or in the future? Any chance that the dog park will ask for funds from any of the cities that this will serve?
lvent August 06, 2012 at 07:38 AM
Taxpayers should inquire about that right now.
Laura Clemons August 06, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Michael - The dog park committee is fully aware that the funding needs will not end. Thus, more fundraising events are on the calendar, and the committee will continue to seek ways to raise funds - new contests, corporate sponsorships, etc.
Laura Clemons August 06, 2012 at 10:33 AM
In addition, membership fees will be used for ongoing maintenance, insurance, etc.
nancy hullinger August 06, 2012 at 03:15 PM
That grove has more than enough parking. It is connected to the path. I've NEVER had a problem getting in or out on Oak Park.
nancy hullinger August 06, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Cindy, it is connected to the path!
Michael M. August 06, 2012 at 04:59 PM
Hopefully, you will be able to get your funding without using taxes or any of the cities programs.
Confused August 07, 2012 at 04:33 PM
Membership fees? One of the Elegibility Requirements is: "make the dog park available for use by the general public at no charge, subject to reasonable rules and regulations concerning such use."
Laura Clemons August 07, 2012 at 04:43 PM
The requirement of free admission is for the $100,000 Grand Prize winner. The runner up winners will be awarded those monies for approved expenses in one lump sum, once the expenses are submitted to the contest Sponsor.
Confused August 07, 2012 at 04:48 PM
(i) Award of Runner-up Prizes. The two Communities designated as a Runner-up Prize Winner will be awarded $25,000 by Sponsor for use in development and construction of a dog park in the Community, subject to compliance with these Official Contest Rules and satisfaction of all Community Eligibility Requirements. (j) Community Eligibility Requirements. To be eligible to receive a Prize, each Community selected as a Prize Winner must: (vi) make the dog park available for use by the general public at no charge, subject to reasonable rules and regulations concerning such use.
Michael M. August 07, 2012 at 06:16 PM
Was there a plan in place prior to entering the contest for ongoing maintenance? My fear is that this will somehow fall on the taxpayers. Also, if the county is going to do any of the work, then the taxpayers will be paying, since we pay county taxes. Who will be the contractor? Who will be responsible for maintaining the park and how will it be funded since you can't charge a membership fee or any other fee. This should all be answered before the next step is taken.
Michael M. August 07, 2012 at 06:23 PM
Is PetSafe aware that there was a plan for membership fees? Did anyone know that it had to be open to the general public at no charge?
Laura Clemons August 07, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Michael and anyone else who has questions regarding maintenance, - registration requirements, licensing requirements, fundraising plans - call me at anytime and I will be happy to answer your questions - it is difficult to make sure I cover every detail in the space provided on this blog. My cell number is (708)903-1845. All of these items have been discussed at all of our open meetings since September of last year. We have a tentative date for the next meeting scheduled for August 27th, and I encourage anyone with questions to attend. I will post the firm date and time when the space availability is confirmed.
Confused August 07, 2012 at 08:23 PM
If it turns out you can't charge a membership fee it's still very likely that a lot of the users would be willing to chip in if a "suggested donation" is an option. We want the dog park and we want to keep it nice but it needs to be reasonable so the general public can access it and not just those that have tons of disposable income. I'm really looking forward to having an off leash dog park in the SW suburbs!
Sue Johnson August 10, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Just a thought, but some dog parks handle the up keep fees by not charging a "membership" fee but you need a special tag to get in. (your dog has updated vet stuff") This is not a "membership" fee but still supports the upkeep. I think we paid about $35 to get a tag for Homewood Dog Park.
Michael M. August 10, 2012 at 08:12 PM
It has to be at no cost to the general public per the rules. If you force people to pay anything to get in the park or you will violate the rules. I do believe they already have a rule that the dogs have to be up to date on shots and vet visits. The difference is you are already required by the city to have your dog up to date on vet stuff, so to make them pay for a tag would be a fee.
Confused August 11, 2012 at 01:44 PM
Which is why I suggested a "suggested donation." It is not required but it would help to maintain the property. I refuse to over vaccinate my dogs so the only shot they've had recently is the required rabies shot. I'm sure there are others like me so I'm hoping they will accept a titer too. Of my four dogs I only have one that I would even consider re-vaccinating to get into the park because I think, for him, the benefits would seriously outweigh the vaccination risks.


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