Placemaking provides a way for community stakeholders to work together and helps build comprehensive communities. For the past few years, we have been working diligently on multiple placemaking opportunities around the city to help beautify, support and invest in our communities, which are made possible by grants provided by the National Association of REALTORS®. Horner Park Dog Park, our newest placemaking effort, provides Irving Park residents a place to meet and congregate.
Horner Park is an active hub in Irving Park which hosts a number of holiday and seasonal special events. At 57.97 acres, it is one of the largest parks on the North Side, boasting softball fields, baseball diamonds, football and soccer fields, outdoor basketball courts, tennis courts, a playground, a relaxing nature area and numerous picnic groves. However, the community noticed it lacked one big piece of the puzzle: there was no dedicated place for dogs to run safely leash-free. They pinpointed three-quarters of an acre in the park as the perfect location for a dog park.
Horner Park completed Phase I in 2018: fencing the perimeter. 2020’s phase two, where our funding came into play, included paving an entryway, installing a water fountain and water features, and building out a small dog area with benches. The third and final phase currently underway includes canine artificial turf play fields and outcropping stone, mulch and other landscaping features.
The goal? To create the largest “grass” dog park in Chicago. The Chicago Park District does not allow natural grass surfaces in dog parks, so turf specially designed for dogs will be installed during phase three.
Not only do efforts like these ensure we are meeting our mission of helping ensure Chicago neighborhoods are healthy and diverse places to live, work and play, but placemaking also helps to strengthen our relationships with elected officials. This initiative was no different, as we were connected to the park and the initiative’s leaders by Cook County Commissioner Bridget Degnen, a dog owner herself.
“The Horner Park Dog Park is a great community space for pets and owners alike,” she said. “It will be state of the art once finished and an invaluable outdoor resource for all residents and dogs in the neighborhood and city. Living in a city does not always allow our dogs to run around, play and enjoy an open space, and it is great to have this park available. Horner Park Dog Park will bring our community together and will be a great gathering space for owners and pets for years to come.”
We’re excited to continue our placemaking efforts around the city. Have a project in mind? We’d love to hear it! Share your insight and expertise with us so we can continue to support our communities.