Welcome Friends and Neighbors!

In response to requests over the years for a neighborhood dog park, the Horner Park Advisory Council formed a Dog Friendly Area Committee (the “DFAC”) to explore the idea of building a dog park in Horner Park. In addition to informal surveys of friends and neighbors, the DFAC conducted a written survey, which was on the Horner Park Advisory Council website for over a year. Those surveys showed overwhelming support for the idea of a dog friendly area in Horner Park. As such, the DFAC began the formal process outlined by the Chicago Park District for developing a Dog Friendly Area (“DFA”) in Horner Park.  That process included holding community meetings, conducting usage surveys of the proposed area over the course of a year, and petitioning the surrounding neighborhood for signatures.  Over the next year, the DFAC completed over 300 usage surveys and collected over 700 petition signatures. The DFAC is also honored to have the support of both Alderman Deb Mell and Alderman Ameya Pawar.

What are the next steps?
The Chicago Park District has approved a .75-acre area in the southwest corner of Horner Park near the intersection of California and Irving Park as suitable for a DFA. The DFAC is grateful for the support of Christy Webber Landscapes and its design team who developed concept drawings to submit to the Park District for approval. The CPD has approved Phase 1 of the dog park, which will consist of a perimeter fence. The fence has been completed and the gates are open! The next steps will be to generate an estimate for Phase 2 of the park, and then raise the remaining funds. From there, construction drawings and permits will have to be obtained before any additional work can begin on landscaping, water features, large and small dog areas etc.

What is the vision?
The DFAC wants to create the largest “grass” dog park in Chicago, where dogs have plenty of room to run and play off leash safely, and legally. To that end, the DFAC identified an underutilized area at the southwest end of Horner Park. Please note that the currently fenced off area on the southeast portion is not the proposed DFA; rather, it the Oak Savanna developed as part of the Army Corp of Engineers River Restoration Project that will open in September 2018. The proposed dog park, which would include both a small dog and large dog area, is adjacent to the Oak Savanna, and would be fully fenced and partially surfaced with canine grass, a lead-free artificial turf designed for dogs, among other surface materials. The trees that currently dot the landscape would remain, as the goal is to aesthetically integrate the DFA into the natural beauty of the park. Unfortunately, however, the Park District does not allow for a natural grass surface. Additional landscaping may be added, but none of the park’s current concrete paths or other amenities would be disturbed. A dog-friendly water fountain would be installed, and other amenities, such as a water feature or agility structures, may be added over time as finances permit.

How much will it cost to build? Who’s going to pay for it?
The Chicago Park District estimate for the development of a DFA is $250,000. The DFAC will have to raise all of the funds needed for this project by asking for contributions from individuals, private and public corporations, community groups and government entities as well as by applying for grants and holding fundraisers. To date, approximately $136,000 has been raised.

Will any fees be imposed on dog owners to use the dog park?
The Chicago Park District requires a permit (comes in the form of a dog tag) to use any of its DFAs including the Foster/Montrose beach area. The annual cost of the permit is $5 and can be obtained at participating veterinarians. The purpose of the permit is to protect the individuals and dogs using the DFAs by ensuring that all of the dogs visiting the park are properly vaccinated.

Will other areas of the park become off limits to dogs once the dog park is built?
The development of the dog park will not change the parks’ rules, the city’s leash laws, or the city’s enforcement priorities. Owners will have the same choices they now have as to how they and their pets use the park. Please note that the Chicago Park District does not allow dogs on its playgrounds or on its tennis courts. City ordinances also require dogs to be leashed and for owners to pick up after their dogs. Enforcement of these ordinances is the responsibility of Chicago Police; neither the Chicago Park District nor the DFAC can issue tickets.

Who is responsible for cleaning and maintaining the DFA?
The DFAC will have ongoing responsibilities to assist in the maintenance and cleanup of the DFA. Dog owners are still responsible for picking up after their pets within the DFA. The first Saturday of every month (from 9-11am) has been designated as clean up day. All are welcome to pitch in!

Why should I support the development of a DFA in Horner Park?
We ask for your support in the development of a DFA in Horner Park so that our neighborhood dogs can have a convenient and safe place to exercise, play and socialize legally off leash. A well-exercised dog is a happy dog, and a better neighbor. Many people currently play with their dogs off leash in Chicago parks, tennis courts, and the ADA softball field. Leaving aside that this illegal and one can face stiff fines, it also poses a problem for other park users as well as potential dangers for the off-leash dogs in terms of running into the street or parking lot. Moreover, when the park is crowded there is no room for off-leash dogs, and when the riverfront project is completed, the fence will come down leaving open access to the river, which creates another danger for off-leash dogs. We hope that if people have a nice, big, fun place just for dogs, they will choose to use it, thereby reducing the potential for off-leash dogs to come into conflict with runners, bikers, children, sports teams or leashed dogs who are also using the park. It is important to be mindful of the fact that not everyone likes dogs; and, indeed, many people are afraid of them. Additionally, while some people may not mind flouting the law and have dogs they can trust to stay out of trouble, some people would appreciate a space where they can do the same activities with their dogs in a law-abiding fashion within the safety of a fenced in arena.

How can I get involved?
If you would like to join the Dog Friendly Area Committee or volunteer to help with one of our events, please contact: DFAC@hornerpark.org. You can also subscribe to our Newsletter at hornerparkdogpark.org or follow us on Facebook Facebook.com/HornerParkDogPark or on Instagram at doggosofhornerpark.


How can I make a donation to the DFA fund?
If you would like to donate online please go to HornerPark.org and click on the “Donate” tab. Choose “Dog Friendly Area” from the menu and follow the instructions. The Horner Park Advisory Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so your contribution will be tax deductible.


Please note that we are in the middle of a long process. The DFA proposal and information here is subject to change in response to comments and concerns from the Park District and/or the community as we move forward. We will do our best to keep you updated.



9 thoughts on “FAQ

  1. This proposed dog park is a bad idea derived by dog-haters on some glorified power trip. I have been living in the adjacent neighborhood for many years and visit Horner park with my two dogs on a daily basis. The dog owners that frequent Horner are very respectful of the park space, staying out of the way of the ball fields, and generally attend in off-peak hours. What is accomplished by putting up fences and fake grass, besides ruining a perfectly beautiful landscape? And have you visited some of the other dog parks that exist around town? They are poorly maintained, smell horribly, and have become eye-sores. I suggest you go visit the Hamlin Park or River Parks dog areas and envision that for Horner Park.

    Horner Park is a gem, just the way it is– don’t let some doggie bigots masquerading as some flim-flam association tear it up! You have a petition? Well so do I. Let the games begin.

    • Thank you for sharing your opinion.

      All of the Dog Friendly Area Committee members and many of the members of the umbrella association, the Horner Park Advisory Council, are dog owners. I’m sorry that you feel that this project was initiated by dog haters. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

      The Horner Park Advisory Council (HPAC) was founded 25 years ago to advocate, support and raise funds for improvements and programs in Horner Park and four other satellite parks in the neighborhood. Some of the projects HPAC has worked on for example include playground improvements to Ravenswood Manor Park, Horner Park and Jacob’s Playlot; the redesign and renovation of Buffalo Park; the memorial to Officer Ceriale in Horner Park and the current Riverfront Restoration. HPAC sponsors the summer concert series in the parks each year and helps fund neighborhood parties such as Manor Bash and contributes to park events such as the Doggie Egg Hunt. The group holds open meetings the first Monday of each month. You are welcome to join.

      In response to community requests over the years, HPAC conducted a survey in 2011. Receiving positive responses and support from the local Alderman who also had received numerous requests over the years for a dog park in Horner, the Council then went on to initiate the formal process with Chicago Park District (CPD) in 2012 to develop a dog friendly area in Horner Park. The CPD has detailed procedures which include petitioning the neighborhood. The Dog Friendly Area Committee followed the procedures outlined by CPD, including using the petition forms provided by CPD that allow signatories to check “yes” or “no” as to whether they would like a dog park.

      What we hope to accomplish is to provide a pleasant environment where dogs can exercise and socialize legally off-leash while reducing the potential conflict with other park users. While many dog owners are respectful, that is not universally the case. And what we discovered was that many people do not use Horner Park because they are afraid of the dogs or because their dogs become agitated on leash because of off-leash dogs approaching them. The idea behind building a dog park is to provide dog owners who want to run their dogs a place where they can do so legally, without fear of their dog running into harms way, in a place where all of the dogs are vaccinated, and in a way that doesn’t interfere with someone else’s use and enjoyment of the park.

      The original thought was to simply fence in an acre on the southwest side of the park that would mimic the spaces currently used. Skokie, for example, has an all-grass dog park (though we would do a much nicer fence, among other changes). However, the CPD will currently not allow natural grass surfaces and they are concerned about the proposed size. We are working with them to try to reach a resolution. We have indeed visited most of the dog parks in Chicago. And I can assure you that no one is envisioning a River Park or Hamlin Park DFA for Horner. If that is what it comes down to, we won’t support a dog park for Horner either. There are however some very nice dog parks, even if they are not exactly what we had in mind for Horner. See for example, Lake Shore East Dog Park. The new Skinner Park dog park is supposed to be nice, though I haven’t been there yet, and the new Fred Anderson Dog Park that is currently under construction looks promising too. Please know that we are working on persuading the Park District to re-envision what a dog park can be.

      If we can answer any questions, please feel free to email info@hornerparkdogpark.org.

  2. Dog parks are womderful. Sometimes a few people that think the park was built for them make it bad. Selfish and rude people who complain about barking,running,and jumping shouldnt have dogs. If dogs are allowed to be dogs and enjoy a park that is built for dogs and not to please a human then go for.it!!!

  3. I’m just discovering this project and I think it’s a wonderful idea! my two dogs LOVE running off lead in grass but don’t quite have good enough recall to frequent some of the larger dog parks in the suburbs. This would be so close to our home and a perfect place for them. I actually run a blog about my dogs and the work I do with rescue organizations and other dog related organizations. I’m going to email you guys and see if there is any way we can partner to help get this project moving forward any quicker!


  4. The only part I don’t understand is this prohibition on natural grass surfaces for dogs.

    What is the problem with natural grass? Dangerous to the dog’s health?

    If that were true then most of the area’s dogs would be sick and/or dead by now, and no one with a dog would be coming near the park.

    Sorry for being crass (about grass!) but the idea occurs to me that someone could make a lot of money installing and maintaining this ‘safe’ grass.

    I grew up in Chicago, OK? Fighting Forty-Seventh and all of that. I have to consider the possibility that there is a con job going on here.

    • We would love to have grass in the park, too! The Parks District has set this prohibition, their reasoning being (as far as we know) that a natural turf dog park would become a muddy, bacteria-filled pit. We’ve been asking for an exception to this rule based on the larger size of our proposed park, but so far no luck.

      • Their explanation, ‘That a natural turf dog park would become a muddy, bacteria-filled pit.” makes no sense, because if that were true it would be happening now. They ARE lying.

  5. Hello
    I support the idea of The Horner Park: Dog Park, I recall signing a petition many years ago and stated that I would support it if the existing resources were not affected. Where will the existing BBQ spots be relocated? While I read in the FAQ’s that the southwest side is under utilized, I see plenty of families enjoying the spots, baby showers, kids bday parties . etc…. I hope both community resources ( BBQ spots and dog park) can be accommodated and/or relocated. Im interested in supporting this effort, and hope to attend a meeting next month.

  6. Hi Nancy. Thanks so much for your support! There is one picnic grove on the DFA site. We checked with the park supervisor after receiving your concern and here is what she said, “We have not been permitting that area at all. We have only been permitting groves 1,2 and 8. And to be honest we do not fill up those three groves. We offer plenty of groves based on the need of the community. Hope that this helps!” We generally meet the last Tuesday of each month. Our next meeting is May 29th at 7 p.m. at the field house. Please do join us!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s