October 23, 2014 – Rob Earnshaw
The largest city in Northwest Indiana is getting its first dog park.
Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. announced this week that Riverside Park in far southwest Hammond will be the home of the approximately 2 acre dog park.
Planning stages are underway with ground expected to be broken in the spring.
“We’re moving forward and we’re all in,” McDermott said. “I know a lot of Hammond residents have been pushing real hard about a dog park and it just made a lot of sense that this is a great location.”
The park will take over the spot where there currently are tennis courts and playground equipment, both of which have become dilapidated, McDermott said. In spite of that loss, McDermott cited newer playground equipment at nearby Optimist Youth Sports Complex being used a lot by children and new tennis courts at Harrison Park and six new courts that are being built at Dowling Park.
City Engineer Stan Dostatni said they are still interested in comments from residents on what they’d like to see at the dog park. He said different configurations are being planned and it will probably be broken into two segments — one for large dogs and one for small dogs. The plans include a card entry system to verify the dog entering the park has been vaccinated.
The building on the site most likely will be refurbished and used for bathroom facilities, Dostatni said.
The dog park is will be in the 4th District of City Councilman Bill Emerson, who has wanted a dog park in Hammond for several years.
“It’s been kicked around for a long time,” he said. “I’m pretty excited about it. I think people will really use it. To me it’s a quality of life issue.”
McDermott said if the park turns out to be successful, which he anticipates, the city is looking at the Robertsdale area for the next one.