Could Forest Park become a two dog-park town?
Yes, at least temporarily, if members of the village’s recreation board have their way.
Last week, members of the recreation board discussed using a part of the village-owned land behind the Altenheim retirement community as a second dog park.
“It’d be nice to utilize dead space,” said rec board chairwoman Jennifer Wolfe.
The dog park would occupy a little more than one acre of the seven- to eight-acre tract that the village owns behind the Altenheim German Home. The village had reached an agreement to sell much of that parcel to the West Cook YMCA for a new YMCA complex, but the deal fell through last year.
Recently, Mayor Anthony Calderone held preliminary talks with Fenwick High School and Dominican University about those schools’ interest in buying or leasing the Altenheim land for athletic fields.
R.J. McMahon. Fenwick’s vice president for development and operations, said Monday that he has not had any recent talks with Calderone or other Forest Park officials after that preliminary discussion but hopes to meet with the mayor some time after Labor Day.
In the meantime, the recreation board is pushing ahead, looking to get quotes on the cost of fencing for a dog park. Wolfe said that she didn’t think it would be that expensive to put a dog park on the property.
“I don’t think it would be very much,” Wolfe said. “I really don’t, because the site is already there. Basically, the cost would be the extra fence.”
Other members of the rec board seemed to support the idea.”I think it’s a good use of the property,” rec board member Will Walsh said at the meeting.
Wolfe said that the rec board will finalize its proposal to the village council in the next few months. The village council has the final say on how to use village-owned property and would need to approve the proposal for a dog park at the Altenheim.
Village commissioner Marty Tellalian, who as Commissioner of Public Property serves as the village council’s liaison to the rec board, expressed cautious support for a dog park on the property behind the Altenheim.
“I’m certainly in favor of pursuing the potential use there,” Tellalian said. “It is not being used. It’s unused property and, in some ways, it’s a temporary use. But if we can put it to good temporary use, then we might as well find something that our residents can use.”
Tellalian said the village must get input from residents at the Altenheim and at the Residences at the Grove to determine how a dog park on the Altenheim land would affect them.
“I do think we need to be more sensitive to the neighbors,” Tellalian said.
Worries with park at Circle and Lehmer
Meanwhile, the village’s existing dog park at Circle and Lehmer, which opened five years ago, has had standing water this summer. The site has no drainage and has been unusable for about 20 percent of the time, according to an e-mail sent to rec board members in May.
A few weeks ago, the village’s Public Works department went to work on the dog park.
“We filled in some of the low spots, added some more chips, recently fixed the fountain and weeded the whole place,” John Doss, Public Works director, said.
Doss said his department weeds the dog park a few times a year, and that lack of a drainage system is the main problem.