There’s a lot to love about Forest Bark Dog Park. Unlike some dog parks we’ve observed, it has actual dogs, which is a plus. Since dog parks are as much about socialization for a pup as for the exercise, having a good mix of dogs is the essential first step and one the village-backed facility on Circle Avenue at the Ike has accomplished.
And with inevitable exceptions it is also a good spot for humans to socialize which is another vital drawing card for a dog park. The people have to enjoy coming, too. There are reports of nuptials ensuing from friendships begun at the Dog Bark.
But the local dog park, which is actually run by the village’s Recreation Board, is starting to face some competition which makes addressing its shortcomings even more critical. Berwyn has just opened a dog park near Ogden Avenue and East. And the Cook County Forest Preserve is planning a dog park for Miller Meadow by 2015.
So before the Rec Board moves further with discussion about opening a second dog park on village-owned land at the Altenheim – an idea that is not catching fire at village hall – how about investing some funds in the current facility. We get that the park is on land owned by the Illinois Department of Transportation and that presents a certain caution about over-investing. We understand that the composition of the soil under the park is not ideal being mainly residue from construction of the expressway 50 years ago.
That would help explain the chronic drainage issues which can turn the park into a mud pit at its worst or a wood chip swamp if a new batch of mulch has recently been laid. Fixing the drainage might cost $12,000 to $25,000 says a rec board champion of the dog park. Yes, that is a lot of money. But sometimes you have to invest in success.
If the Dog Bark is going to remain a destination, if it is actively an attraction and an amenity in a town with a lot of apartments housing a lot of cooped-up pups, then it would be a worthwhile expenditure to explore.