The Riverside Parks and Recreation Commission is considering whether to recommend that a dog park be built in Riverside.
“There is definitely a need for it,” said Susan Casey, chairwoman of the Parks and Recreation Commission. “I just think it needs to be talked about. My objective was to point out a problem and offer solutions.”
Casey did just that July 25 at a meeting of the village’s Parks and Recreation Commission. Casey outlined the issues involved with creating a dog park in Riverside. The commission members will weigh in at the commission’s next meeting on Aug. 22.
It seems that most members of the commission are favorably disposed towards the dog park idea.
Michael Murphy, a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, says that he thinks the community would be in favor of a dog park.
“I don’t see any negativity toward it,” Murphy said after last week’s meeting.
Casey said that a dog park could cost anywhere between $12,500 (the cost of a dog park in Forest Park) and around $100,000 (the cost of the Maple Dog Park in DuPage County).
It was made clear at the meeting that the village would not be shelling out the money to create a dog park, though a village staffer left open the possibility that the village could pay for upkeep if a dog park is built.
“It’s not a component of the budget right now,” said Ron Malchiodi, recreation director for the village.
Supporters of a dog park would have the raise the money necessary to build a dog park. Murphy said that he thinks dog lovers in Riverside could do that.
“If it’s supported by the community, fundraising wouldn’t be a problem,” Murphy said.
Riverside Village President Mike Gorman sat in on Casey’s presentation and said the creation of a dog park is worth talking about.
“I am in favor of it being discussed,” Gorman said.
Casey threw out a couple of possible locations for a dog park in Riverside. One possibility she mentioned is Indian Gardens along the Des Plains River
Other locations mentioned included the south Swan Pond area which is, however, very prone to flooding. The triangular-shaped piece of village land immediately southwest of the downtown train station has also been mentioned as possibility, but many see that area as too congested for a dog park.
According to Casey, experts say that one acre of land is necessary for a dog park. A dog park should also have flexible fences that are five or six feet high she said. There should also be drinking fountains, shade and benches.
Dogs running loose in Big Ball Park and other Riverside parks is a continuing problem that needs to be addressed, Casey said. She also said that dog owners not cleaning up after their dogs is another problem that needs to be addressed, possibly with more explicit signage.
Casey also pointed out that dogs have been damaging the tennis courts a Blythe Park which has been used by some as an unofficial dog park.
The commission is looking at ways to find out how the citizens of Riverside feel about a dog park. One option is to send out a questionnaire.
Casey said that she hasn’t yet made up her own mind whether Riverside should have a dog park.
“I don’t know if it’s possible in Riverside,” said Casey, who owns a Jack Russell terrier. “I am trying to remain neutral. I definitely think there are positives and there are also negatives.”