The talk turned to dog parks at a special meeting of the Forest Park Village Council on Tuesday morning regarding the 2013-14 village budget. One item up for discussion was a proposal to fence in a second temporary dog park at the village-owned Altenheim property near the Residences at the Grove.
Commissioner Chris Harris brought up the idea saying it had strong support at a “participatory budgeting” hearing Harris hosted in April at the Forest Park Public Library.
At the library meeting in April, Harris pointed out that the space is already being used as an unofficial dog park. He claimed River Forest residents were playing with their dogs in the area, which is marked “No Dogs.”
Harris said at the earlier meeting constructing a $4,000 temporary fence would allow Forest Park to capture some membership income from interloping dog owners. The out-of-town rate for the Forest Bark Dog Park at Circle and Lehmer is $50.
But, on Tuesday, Harris could not get majority support for the second dog park as Mayor Anthony Calderone, Commissioner Tom Mannix and Commissioner Mark Hosty opposed the idea. Harris admitted he could not come up with a guess as to how much revenue a second dog park could bring in.
Calderone didn’t think much of the idea.
“Why would we invest any money to help non-Forest Park residents,” Calderone said. “In my opinion it’s a stupid idea.”
“I just don’t think that we should be spending Forest Park tax dollars to build something for River Forest residents when there is no guarantee of return,” Mannix said.
Calderone also said that since the second dog park idea was made public in April, a number of residents had expressed their opposition to him.
“I’ve had somewhere between 40 to 60 [people] voice their opinion to me that they think it is an unwise use of public revenues,” Calderone said. “Now that’s a pretty large number of people that voiced their opinion to me. I think the number of people not liking that idea is a couple more than voiced their opinion at the library in favor of it.”
“We have a dog park,” the mayor added. “Our existing dog park needs some maintenance, and we should focus on taking care of our existing dog park before we start allocating additional public resources based upon a couple of people’s ideas. I can’t support the idea of us spending money, whether its $500 or $5,000, to market it to River Forest to make some money.”
Hosty also opposed creating a dog park on the Altenheim property, saying that he wanted to sell the land.
“I don’t oppose dog parks,” Hosty said. “I oppose any development on Altenheim, because I think we should be marketing it.”