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Plans for Oswego Dog Park Moving Forward

Jun 24, 2014 02:22PM ● Published by Steven Jack

Dogs and their owners play at the "pop-up" dog park set up at Prairie Point Park during PrarieFest. Photo courtesy of Meg Nicole

The overwhelming success of a temporary dog park set up during PrairieFest earlier this month has brought a permanent canine park in Oswego even closer to reality.

Chad Feldotto, senior park planner with the Oswegoland Park District, said the District is currently working with the nonprofit Oswegoland Park and Rec Foundation to find a suitable location for a 5-acre dog park, which could open as soon as next year. Whether that location is at an existing community park, or land that will need to be purchaseD has yet to be determined. 

Either way, the park won’t cost taxpayers a dime, as the Foundation plans to fundraise the necessary money for the park, Feldotto said.

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The latest push for a dog park began earlier this year at the Foundation’s annual meeting. It was at that meeting that members heard from Phil Simmons, the organizer of A similar dog park campaign in south suburban Frankfort. The Bark Park was opened in 2007 using only donations and volunteer efforts, and today it is considered one of the top dog parks in Illinois. 

Feldotto said the Foundation and Park District used the “pop-up” dog park at PrarieFest to gauge community interest. At any given time, anywhere from six to 20 dogs could be seen at the temporary one-acre park.

“We were just trying to get an idea of how one would work, and to see what the response would be,” he said. “The response was overwhelming. We had about 150 people sign our interest sheet, and to have that many people sign anything about any park amenity is pretty amazing.” 

An ideal dog park would include five acres, plenty of shade, a water source and ample parking. That rules out neighborhood parks around town and leaves bigger parks like Prairie Point as possible spots. However, two possible drawbacks at Prairie Point are much of the space is dedicated to ball and soccer fields and shade is not plentiful, Feldotto said. 

If that ideal five-acre tract isn’t possible in the short-term, Feldotto said plans may be scaled back to a smaller park in the interim. As for an opening, sometime in 2015-16 is a real possibility.

“I think with the success of the event at PrairieFest, staff, the Foundation and Park Board Commissioners all pretty much agree that this isn’t something we should put off much longer,” Feldotto said. 

A next step in the process will be to form a committee of residents, local veterinarians and canine-themed business owners to help drive the project forward. Those interested in knowing more about an Oswego dog park, can email the foundation at foundation@oswegolandpd.org

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