Brookfield dog park idea not ready to roll over

Resident says she has support; Rec Commission needs more info

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By BOB UPHUES

The last time someone pitched the idea of establishing a dog park in Brookfield, it was met with a petition filled with the signatures of incensed residents. But that hasn't deterred resident Barbara Brown, who asked the Playgrounds and Recreation Commission to resurrect the plan.

Brown, who appeared before the village's Playgrounds and Recreation Commission earlier this month, said she frequently takes her two dogs to parks in other nearby communities and feels it would benefit what she sees as a growing number of dog owners in Brookfield.

"There are so many people who walk their dogs in my neighborhood," said Brown. "I know this will be a huge success."

To prove her point, Brown said she's been circulating a petition in recent weeks and has amassed some 200 signatures from people in favor of creating a dog park in Brookfield.

"I've been going door to door," she said.

Brown is expected to present the petition to the Playgrounds and Recreation Commission at its next meeting on Feb. 1, where commissioners will again take up the topic.

The key question, of course, is where exactly a dog park could be created within the village. Brown suggested that such a dog-friendly area could be created at either Kiwanis Park, Jaycee/Ehlert Park or on the strip of unimproved village owned land in the 4600 block of Sunnyside Avenue that gained notoriety in 2003-04 as a dumping ground for village leaf removal among other things.

Her preferred location, she said, would be Maple South, a tot lot in the 3900 block of Maple Avenue. With a larger park located on the other side of the railroad tracks just a block north and with its central location in the village, Brown said Maple South "would be perfect."

David LeClere, chairman of the Brookfield Playgrounds and Recreation Commission said that Maple South probably wouldn't be his first choice, however, due to its proximity to residences.

"Personally, I'd have some reservations over there," he said.

In addition, the village installed new playground equipment at Maple South in recent years, and that additional improvements there might increase use of the tot lot even more.

"The size would be good, but I don't know if that's the spot," LeClere said.

Since parking and access are difficult propositions near the 4600 block of Sunnyside Avenue, and because the Playgrounds and Recreation Commission doesn't have jurisdiction over that property, the commission may focus its efforts on either Kiwanis or Ehlert parks.

LeClere said the commission will try to get cost estimates for fencing and other amenities to see if the creation of a dog park is feasible.

"We'll have to see if it's within our budget," said LeClere. "We also want to see if there are more people who are for this and to get other information."

Commissioners were tasked with visiting other nearby dog parks in Oakbrook and Forest Park to get an idea of what other municipalities have done to accommodate dog owners.

Creating a dog park in Brookfield last surfaced in the fall of 2003, when Trustee Linda Stevanovich, then the village board's liaison to the Playgrounds and Recreation Commission, suggested that the village might be able to use Cook County Forest Preserve land near 29th Street and Prairie Avenue as a dog park.

The Rec Board contacted Cook County Forest Preserve District officials about the possibility of using county land for such a park, but the idea never gained any traction there. In addition, over 100 residents in the area bordering the proposed dog park site, signed a petition opposing the idea, and it has been in hibernation since.

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