Whether strolling through the downtown district, driving around Eight Corners or chatting over the fence with neighbors, residents and visitors of Brookfield are sure to cross paths with several dogs and their owners.
Despite Brookfield seeming like the perfect candidate for a dog park – it's a subject that's been kicked around for more than a decade -- the village lacks a formal dog park for their furry friends to frolic with local Fidos.
That's why this summer, Kendra Kuehlem, community and economic development intern for the village of Brookfield, was given the task of conducting an exploratory dog park study to gauge interest of Brookfield residents on whether they were interested in having such a space formally designated in town.
At the beginning of her internship this summer, Kuehlem said she became interested in further researching the topic after sifting through village documents from 2006 which included brief studies and petitions from residents asking the village to look into the possibility of opening a Brookfield dog park. Also, in tune with implementing the Village's Open Space Plan designated in 2014, she agreed to take on an exploratory study to see if all these years later, residents were still hoping for the same thing.
Kuehlem created a timeline and an online survey with a link posted on the village's news page for residents to fill out as well as helped organize a Dog Park Open House on July 12, where residents were asked to stop by village hall and give their input.
The overwhelming majority of residents who attended were still in favor of bringing a dog park to town.
"Based on survey results, 89 percent of people in Brookfield have a dog and 88 percent are interested on having a dog park in Brookfield," Kuehlem said. "There were a couple people who came who weren't totally excited about the dog park … but there were a lot of people who were interested and shared their experiences with going to other dog parks and the things they did and didn't like with other ones."
Emily Egan, Brookfield's village planner who has been working alongside Kuehlem, said she is pleased that residents have been vocal about the topic.
"I'm so happy with the amount of response we've gotten from just the online survey," Egan said. "Sometimes it's hard to get people to get involved, but it seems like a lot of people are very interested in this."
At the meeting, Kuehlem designed a virtual interactive map, which residents were invited to write on and mark where they would be interested in having a possible dog park.
"We're looking at some of the other parks that are already established in Brookfield, like Ehlert Park or Madlin Park, so as part of the study, I'm going through and looking at all of these locations to see if we'd actually be able to put one in that location," Kuehlem said.
Another part of the study includes weighing pros and cons for deciding whether a potential park would be open for just Brookfielders or for out-of-towners, too.
Additionally, Egan said that because several possible park locations within Brookfield lie within Cook County Forest Preserve District land, the village has also met with a representative from the Forest Preserve District to discuss potential for designation of a spaces for such a park.
"We want to make sure we explore all the options to see if that could be another possibility," Egan said.
Kuehlem is currently finishing up her preliminary report on findings from the survey and discussions with locals and will be presenting her research to both the Planning and Zoning Commission and village board later this month. From there, it will be up to village officials to decide on taking any next steps.
"Kendra did a really great job of how I would describe getting all of the information the board would need to make their decision," Egan said.