Dog park to be designed by U of I students, pending aldermen approval

By Gary Scott on October 16, 2015 at 8:29am

File photo: Dog owners and their four-legged friends at the site where the dog park will be built in Jacksonville.

Jacksonville’s Parks and Lakes Committee approved a proposal for a master plan for the city’s new dog park on Thursday.

The plan would be developed by students at the University of Illinois. Jacksonville was the grand-prize winner of $100,000 to build a new dog park in a contest sponsored by PetSafe this year.

Alderwoman Marcy Patterson, who chairs the committee, says the move still needs to be approved by the full City Council during its next meeting on October 26th.

“And if they do, then we can spend the first $5,100 of the money that we won and it will give us a conceptual plan, a multiple-step conceptual plan to help us get the dog park built and still allow us options for years to come, because it will be a plan in different phases,” says Patterson.

While no city money is being spent on the project, Patterson says the City of Jacksonville will be asked to up-front that money, as she notes PetSafe won’t give the city the cash until certain criteria are met, such as having a master plan in place.

“We’re treating this as a city project. So, yes, we’re paying this money just like we would pay any other bill,” she says. “And then once we have all of the steps completed that PetSafe requires, they will reimburse us for whatever we spent.”

Patterson explains why the Bark for Your Park mayoral advisory committee recommended the University of Illinois to develop the plan.

“The Bark for Your Park Committee, when we initially met with them, they were excited about the time they spent with the University of Illinois, and the University of Illinois program director is from California and has a history of putting together dog parks. So, she’s experienced,” says Patterson.

“It’s a little bit of an inexpensive option because it’s a university and it’s students doing a lot of the work, so [committee members] believe this will get them exactly what they want without spending a huge dollar amount to get that plan in their hands.”

An area of land east of Nichols Park has been designated as the site for the new dog park.