If Winfield Park District builds a new dog park, it appears unlikely the land for the project will come from the forest preserve.
DuPage County Forest Preserve commissioners next week are scheduled to vote on the park district's request to use 4.5 acres in the western portion of the West DuPage Woods Forest Preserve to build and operate an off-leash dog park. The proposed site is next to Winfield's Wynwood Park.
Forest preserve President D. "Dewey" Pierotti Jr. says he's against having the forest preserve enter into a 25-year lease with the park district for the proposed dog park. If the board approves the agreement, Pierotti said Tuesday he would seek to veto it.
"This property was bought by referendum money paid by all the people of DuPage County," Pierotti said. "It was for open space. It would be presumptuous of me to support an outside agency trying to put something on our property that we don't think is necessary."
The park district made the request for the agreement last month.
Winfield park board President Steve Massie said in an April 16 letter that his board supports the development of a dog park.
"Strong community support for this type of park amenity was identified in our 2013 community survey," Massie wrote in the letter. "The residents of the Winfield area have benefited from a strong park district and forest preserve system, and this type of cooperation would strengthen each of our efforts in providing open space recreational opportunities."
Mark Pawlowski, executive director of the park district, said most of the district's 67 acres is occupied, so it lacks the property needed for a dog park.
He said officials picked the West DuPage Woods as a possible location after reviewing properties that other park districts own next to Winfield's parks.
If the lease deal is approved, the park district would pay for the construction, maintenance and security of the dog park.
Still, forest preserve staff members are recommending the district reject the park district's request for several reasons.
They said the district already has given more than 15 acres of West DuPage Woods land to the village and park district for "infrastructure, public health and recreational needs." A dog park would have an impact on the ecosystem of West DuPage Woods, officials said.
In addition, the forest preserve already manages five dog exercise fields open to all county residents. They say two forest preserves -- Blackwell near Warrenville and East Branch near Glendale Heights -- have dog parks that are located within three miles of the proposed Winfield site.
Commissioner Linda Painter said Winfield residents already have dog parks in the area they can use.
"If there is a dog park two miles away, that's pretty close," she said. "A lot of people in DuPage have farther to go to dog parks than two miles."