IRVING PARK — With Phase One complete, Horner Park’s dog friendly area opened to the puppy public this week.
“It started more than five years ago, we had some community members who expressed an interest in doing this and we asked them to do a survey to gauge interest,” said Peter Schlossman, president of the Horner Park Advisory Council.
After they found there was quite a bit of interest in a dog park from residents, a committee was formed to work with the Chicago Park District and Erica Beutleer was recruited to lead it, Schlossman said.
“We’re not in a (tax-increment financing) TIF or other kind of special district, so we’ve had to raise a lot of the money ourselves,” Beutleer said. “So we do a number of fundraising campaigns throughout the year.”
These include calendar contests, online auctions and partnering with local businesses to host fundraising events.
“The dog that won the calendar contest was adopted the same day she won from PAWS,” she said. “We also do a doggie egg hunt every spring, which is also a lot of fun.”
The committee has raised nearly $138,000 towards the dog park. Additionally Ald. Deb Mell (33rd) and Ald. Ameya Pawar (47th) split the estimated cost of the $52,200 fence around the dog park and another $15,000 was donated to the project from the park’s advisory council, said Beutleer.
“But we have another $100,000 to go to complete the surface area,” she said.
“We were hoping for more, but we settled for three quarters of an acre. It’s a very good size for the area. Plenty of room for dogs to run,” Schlossman said. “We didn’t want a small dog park. We were adamant that we could make it as big as we could possibly make it.”
Additionally, the dog park’s design was donated by Christy Webber Landscapes and includes features like a canine grass field (lead free artificial turf designed for dogs), a dog friendly water fountain and plenty of space to run and play.
The Thursday ribbon cutting at the dog park means that residents and their four legged best friends can start using the park, but doesn’t mean that construction on the project is completed.
“Dogs will be able to use it ahead of the resurfacing, fencing it in is kind of just phase one. As time goes on it’s up to us to raise money for the other amenities we want,” he said. “We have a great list of donors for this project. But if there’s another donor out there who reads this with deep pockets, we’d love to have them contribute as well.”
Residents who want to take their pup to check out the new dog friendly area at Horner Park must follow the park district’s rules for dog parks in the city.
“And the dog park hours are the same hours as the Chicago park,” Beutleer said.
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.