East Branch Off-Leash Dog Area Improvements
For more than 25 years, the East Branch Forest Preserve off-leash dog area in Glendale Heights has operated as an area for dog training and recreation. During the 1980s, wetlands were created along the East Branch of the DuPage River as mitigation for the construction of Interstate 355. The Forest Preserve District of DuPage County has worked to monitor and maintain these areas over the last several years, and consequently, the quality of these wetlands has steadily improved. In the mid-90s, a pond was constructed that was designed for dog-training purposes and to serve as a regional storm-water detention facility. This project was completed in conjunction with the widening of Swift Road by the DuPage County Division of Transportation. Increased use in recent years today requires improvements to the gravel-parking lot and other site amenities to meet the needs of preserve users, adjacent property owners and the District's Land Management operations. The District considered several options for site improvements with input received from the public. The result: The off-leash dog area will remain at its present location and existing amenities will be upgraded.
Planning for improvements at the East Branch off-leash dog area began in late 2002. To expand the existing parking lot, a floodway and floodplain study was necessary and performed on the site's pond to comply with ordinance regulations of the DuPage County Stormwater Management Division. The District's consulting engineer, Cowhey Gudmundson Leder Ltd., provided engineering, surveying and FEQ hydrologic-computer modeling services necessary to obtain the required permits.
Appropriated yearly Capital Development funds and the sale of non-referendum bonds will fund the site improvements. A total of $350,000 is allocated for the project.
Today, the project is in the final phase of permitting and is anticipated to be released for bid in the spring of 2006. Construction is planned from mid- June through September. The existing parking lot and off-leash dog area will be temporarily closed during construction to complete the work. The site will reopen when work is fully completed - anticipated sometime during the fall of 2006.
Several years of planning and coordination have been required to complete all plans for site improvements in order to comply with federal, state and DuPage County Stormwater Management Division's permitting regulations. In addition, efforts have been made to satisfy the concerns of preserve neighbors and preserve visitors while addressing the District's costs for operations and maintenance and environmental concerns.
Unlike some of the District's other off-leash dog areas, the East Branch site will not be enclosed by fencing at this time. This is due to the unique environmental conditions that are present at the site including wetland, floodway, and floodplain constraints and the regulation of these conditions by state and local permitting agencies.
New amenities will include a 100-car asphalt parking lot, three treatment wetland-detention basins, a 20-foot-long pedestrian boardwalk that spans wetlands adjacent to the parking lot, a new entrance swing gate and various regulation and informational signs. Other improvements will include 4,500 square-feet of concrete paving and 1,000 square-feet of limestone paving. General landscape improvements will include the planting of 110 trees and shrubs, planting several thousand wetland plugs and seeding 3 acres of prairie vegetation.
Please note that when future funding allows, plans exist to provide a well-and-hand pump for potable water for preserve users and their pets.