Owners of pint-size pooches will have a new small-dog enclosure for their pets at Hammel Woods Dog Park in 2018.
The Forest Preserve Board's operations committee agreed July 5 to seek bids for the project, which will create a separate 2.3-acre small-dog enclosure immediately to the south of the existing off-leash dog park.
The 7-acre Hammel Woods Dog Park in Shorewood was the first dog park built by the District. After the dog park opened in 2002, District staff realized that large and small dogs don't always mix well together.
So dog parks built after 2002 featured three enclosures: one for big dogs 35 pounds and heavier, one for small dogs, and another that is rotated in to allow the grass to regenerate after taking a pounding from pups' paws.
Next year, when the Hammel Woods small-dog enclosure opens, small-dog owners can choose to use the new option or remain in the original enclosure, but big dogs must stay in the large-dog enclosure.
Forest Preserve staff members didn't know if the first dog park would be a hit or a miss 15 years ago, so having one enclosure made it easier to convert the area back to a preserve by removing the fencing, said Ralph Schultz, the District's chief operating officer.
But the Hammel Woods Dog Park was successful, and it remains a popular place where dogs can romp and explore.
"The Forest Preserve's dog parks offer dog owners a wonderful opportunity to let their pets run off leash and socialize with other animals in a large, safe environment," Schultz said. "Dog park users also can socialize with each other while enjoying nature and all that the Forest Preserve has to offer."
Schultz said District officials made a strategic decision to build dog parks in both residential and rural areas.
"Based on their success and acceptance by the dog-owning public, we wanted to be able to offer dog park experiences across the county at multiple sites," Schultz said.
In addition to the new small-dog enclosure at Hammel Woods Dog Park, the project will include construction of a shade shelter in the small-dog enclosure and a drinking fountain that will also serve the preserve's campground and people who use the preserve's trails.
Friends of the Forest Preserve District of Will County, the District's non-profit fundraising foundation, will be seeking donations to help pay for some of the amenities included in the project. The group will host a "Yappy Hour" fundraiser near the dog park from 4-7 p.m. on Friday, September 8, at Hammel Woods – DuPage River Access.
In addition to Hammel Woods, Forest Preserve dog parks are located in: Forked Creek Preserve, Wilmington; Lower Rock Run Preserve, Joliet; Messenger Marsh, Homer Glen; and Whalon Lake, Naperville. A sixth dog park will open at Plum Valley Preserve in Crete Township in 2018.
Half-year 2017 dog park permits are on sale now; 2018 permits go on sale on November 1. For more information on the Forest Preserve's dog parks, visit the dog exercising page.