We have been listening and want to take a moment to address some additional questions that have recently surfaced. Please look at our first Q&A article for answers to other questions that have previously arisen. Thanks!
Will the proposed dog park area still be available to picnickers?
No. Picnicking would be prohibited in the Dog Friendly Area. There are currently two picnic groves in that area. While this is unfortunate, it is a big park and we hope that picnickers can be accommodated elsewhere in Horner’s 54 acres. We are making a note to discuss this with park supervisors. Adding the dog friendly area will result in striking a different balance in this area of the park. Picnicking is seasonal, with crowding mostly becoming an issue on summer holiday weekends, and we hope that the dog park will be able to meet the needs of a greater number of our neighbors all year long. We are currently conducting usage surveys to see how that area of the park is being used and will continue to do so through the summer.
What about the running path?
The usage surveys will help us understand how the community uses the proposed area, including the running path. If the community wants to keep the running path, there are ways to make that happen. One way to have the dog park and preserve the running path would be to move the fence in from Irving Park to the other side of the running path, making the first fence the dog park fence (much like the first fence along Montrose is the tennis court fence) and the joggers could still run on the path, with the fence on the North side of them, rather than on the South. Another way would simply be to build the dog park inside the running path. A third idea is to push the dog park closer to the current fence along Irving Park and create a new dirt running trail on the north side of the northern dog park fence. There are several options to be discussed further down the road when we get to the design phase. But if the community wants to keep the running path, there is no reason we cannot have both. We have discussed the track meet issue with park management and have determined that the park is big enough to meet the needs of the cross-country teams regardless. It is just a matter of how they set their courses.
What about the aesthetics and environmental implications of using artificial turf?
The goal is to create an as natural and aesthetically pleasing Dog Friendly Area as possible. Natural grass is not an option so we will likely use a mixture of materials for the surface area including, largely, artificial turf. The artificial grass will look like natural grass from a distance. From an environmental perspective, using turf made from recycled plastic bottles or tires with organic material backing can have environmentally positive implications. To begin with, you’ve rescued those materials from the landfill and given them another life. Also, turf doesn’t need water, pesticides, weeding, seeding, or mowing so there are environmental savings to our water and air pollution! (Did you know that “a typical gasoline-powered lawn mower for one hour produces the same amount of smog-forming hydrocarbons as driving an average care almost 200 miles under typical driving conditions.” http://www.epa.gov/oaqps001/community/details/yardequip_addl_info.html)
The dog park at Lakeshore East Park is a nice example of how a dog friendly area can be incorporated into an attractive park. Please see the pictures in our “Imagine a Dog Friendly Area!” article, which show images of the artificial grass at Lakeshore East Dog Friendly Area. Please also note that many Chicago Public schools have moved to turf fields (including our local elementary school, Waters) and the Park District has had success with turf fields used for soccer and other sports as well (see, for example, River Park, Winnemiac Park, and the fields at Foster and the lake).
If the park receives funding from corporate sponsors will there be advertisements blanketing the park?
No. While we will be seeking funding from corporate donors, Chicago Park District does not permit corporate advertising in its parks on that level. There will be a plaque at the gate thanking our sponsors. There will not be corporate banners, logos or signs permanently posted on the dog park fence.
If corporate sponsors don’t cover the costs, will tax payers and dog owners have to pay for the dog park?
If we cannot raise the money to build the dog park, it will not be built. 75% of the funds have to be raised before the Park District will approve the project and move to the design phase. Our fund-raising efforts will include requests for donations from both public and private entities as well as from individuals. Park District Guidelines also provide that the Park District could contribute up to $75,000 if it has the money. At last check, we were told they did not have the money to contribute at this time. The area does not qualify for TIFF funds.
To discuss these and other issues and to find out more about the project, join us at Horner Park on Thursday, January 17th at 7 p.m. Please know that nothing is being finalized at that meeting. The Chicago Park District Guidelines provide for a long and thorough process and we are moving systematically through all of the necessary steps. Currently we are holding public meetings, collecting petition signatures and completing usage surveys. To volunteer or join the Dog Friendly Are Committee, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.