Miller Meadow

Miller Meadow is about to get a makeover, including a new dog park.

Members of the Forest Preserve District of Cook County unveiled maps of a new site master plan at an open house July 25.

With some pooches in-tow, about 30 dog owners converged on the event, some snacking on cookies and juice provided. The parcel is located on the southeast corner of First Avenue and Roosevelt Road in Maywood, across from Loyola Hospital.

The Forest Preserve is taking online suggestions for the dog park until July 31 on its website, www.fpdcc.com/siteplans.

Michelle and Joe from Oak Park brought their 18-month old boxer, Staley. The couple had been letting Staley work off his energy at Oak Park’s Ridgeland Commons dog park, but when the Park District started to remodel the complex, the dog park was closed.

Dog owners in Forest Park can often be seen at Forest Bark Dog Park, at the intersection of Circle and Lehmer Avenues. Last month, a second, larger and better-drained dog park was suggested for the village-owned property at Altenheim by Commissioner Chris Harris during a budget meeting.

Mayor Anthony Calderone shot down the plan, calling it a “stupid idea” and saying 40-60 Forest Park citizens had personally called him saying they didn’t want a dog park at Altenheim.

But for Forest Parkers wanting a bigger space for their dogs to run, Miller Meadow’s new plan might be the solution. Forest Preserve officials say the dog area is on schedule to open next summer.

On the concept plan, Forest Preserve planners mapped out a seven-acre fenced area for unleashed dogs to run free near the south entrance to the meadow off First Avenue. Leashed dogs are allowed on any part of the site.

The dog-park site was selected because it was closest to adequate parking, said Kindy Kruller of the Forest Preserve District.

“There’s a double parking lot right there,” Kruller said.

The proposed dog area would be divided into two sections: either for large and small dogs, or as a way to rotate use and allow one half of the field to lie fallow and recover from use.

But some of the dog owners commented that bathrooms were far away from the dog park.

“I want a bathroom I can go into with my dogs,” one female owner said. Fresh water was also a problem, as the Forest Preserve district’s pumps were located on the other side of the park.

Members of the Riverside Friends of Miller Meadow Dog Park group said they were glad to see the space marked out.

“I was hoping dogs were going to be included on the site plan,” said Susan Casey, of Riverside. “For the last two years people have stood by me and worked with me to get this going.”

Kruller said Oak Park’s park district had also been working with the Forest Preserve to support the plan since the Ridgeland Commons park closed.

Some dog owners were surprised to see a different location for the site than had been released earlier by Forest Preserve District Landscape Architecht, David Kircher.

In a previous plan the dog park was located in the southwestern corner of the property, using Cermak Road as an entrance.

That area is now designated for the Checkerboard model airplane enthusiasts, who fly their radio-controlled aircraft at the property. Radio pilots requested a meadow space far away from troublesome trees to keep flight-paths clear.

The change was OK with Casey. “They hired a planner and a designer designed it,” said Casey. “They needed to take into account all of the different groups.”

Some owners said their dogs enjoyed running on cut grass as well as among prairie grasses and urged planners to consider stretching the dog park site east to encompass some prairie.

Cook County has two other dog parks on land owned by the Forest Preserve District. They are a seven-acre park at Bremen Grove Dog Park, near 159th Street on Oak Park Avenue and the 26-acre Beck Lake Dog Friendly Area at East Central Road and East River Road in Glenview.

Cook County dog permits cost $50 per dog for residents and $100/dog for non-residents. Three dogs per person are the maximum number allowed. Permit holders must display a lanyard permit at all times. Dogs must provide proof of vaccination and a veterinarian must sign off on a county dog permit.

Other uses for Miller Meadow

The Miller Meadows site plans include other uses for the property. A large portion of the site plan includes prairie grassland as a bird and wildlife area. A walking path circles the grassland area with a curving path that leads to the top of a small bird-watching hill.

 

The park will also have regulation soccer playing fields, Kruller said.

 

"We've gotten some inquiries from local camps who want to use the space for their childrens' activities," she added.

 

The plan also included an 18-hole disc golf course where Frisbee players can shoot their discs into baskets, a tightrope slackline children's play area, picnic improvements, sand volleyball and a canoe launch into the Des Plaines River.

 

"We can't do all of this at once," said landscape architect Maria Sovan of upland Design, Ltd., who have contracted with the Forest Preserve District to design the site plan. Loyola Hospital employees often park in the Forest Preserve parking lots, and the plan includes a pedestrian overpass to link the hospital and park. Kruller suggested the hospital would be paying for that.

 

"The hospital wants to use the park more for their patients and staff to have picnics or get some exercise," Kruller said.

 

Part of the open house was to prioritize which parts of the plan should go first. By the number of dog owners at the event, it was clear that there was demand for dog space.

 

The Forest Preserve district has a 2013 budget of around $370,000 for Miller Meadow for immediate improvements. More money will be freed up in upcoming yearly budgets and when the Preserve District issues capital improvement bonds.

 

"I'm grateful with the population density in the area we have the opportunity to have our dogs run," Casey said.

Jean Lotus

Jean Lotus loves community journalism. She covers news, features, two school boards, village council, crime, park district and writes obits for Forest Park Review. She also covers the police beat for...

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