Suburbs with increasing pet populations are working to offer more amenities that cater to the needs of their four-legged constituents.
In response to a growing demand for dog parks, Des Plaines and the Elk Grove Village Park District are exploring the possibility of creating their first dog parks, while the Hoffman Estates Park District will break ground this spring on the district's second dog park, one that also will serve Streamwood and Elgin dog owners.
Finding a suitable location is key as residents often take a "not in my back yard" or NIMBY approach to dog parks, said Mike Brottman, Elk Grove Park District executive director.
The park district has 42 parks, nearly all of them in neighborhoods.
"It's hard for Elk Grove to find a suitable location that is not a neighborhood park," Brottman said.
The district has put together a task force to study the feasibility of creating a dog park and is gearing up to make recommendations to the park board on a possible location, Brottman said.
"We are hoping to bring a recommendation to our board sometime early this year," he said. "Dog parks are something of an interesting discussion right now. About five years ago they were about the hottest things. As good as they appear to be, sometimes there are problems."
Des Plaines recently sent letters to about 2,000 registered dog owners to gauge interest. The response has been overwhelmingly positive, Mayor Marty Moylan said.
Moylan, himself a dog-lover, said when he goes door-to-door talking to residents about issues, a dog park is on top of their wish list.
Des Plaines is considering two city-owned vacant properties as possible locations -- at Prospect Lane and Lee Street south of the Kmart, and on the south side of Central Road, east of Wolf Road.
Both properties were purchased with the intent of building future fire stations that never materialized due to lack of funding, Moylan said.
"We're going to be looking at other dog parks and see how they are constructed, and then we're going to go to the residents to get input," Moylan said.
The Hoffman Estates Park District is developing plans for a nearly five-acre off-leash dog park -- in place of two soccer fields -- on the west side of town south of Russell Drive in Canterbury Park Place.
The dog park will be enclosed with a 5-foot-high chain-link fence. It will be part of an existing 16-acre park that borders Lincoln Elementary School to the north, Streamwood to the south and Elgin to the west.
Construction is expected to begin in late spring and be completed by the summer.
There are no homes on either side of the proposed dog park, park district Executive Director Dean Bostrom said.
The Hoffman Estates Park District is partnering with the Elgin parks department and Streamwood Park District on the project. The three entities are expected to ink an intergovernmental agreement in March to share the roughly $133,000 cost of constructing the park, which will be operated by the Hoffman Estates Park District.
Neither Elgin nor Streamwood have dog parks.
The new dog park could accommodate about 1,000 dogs, Bostrom said.
Members would have to pay yearly dues to be part of the new dog park -- $45 for residents and $65 for nonresidents for the first dog; and $15 for residents, and $20 for nonresidents for each additional dog, officials said.
The park will include a common area and a small dog area, shade structures, water, parking, and portable restroom facilities.
Hoffman Estates' existing members-only dog park -- Bo's Run, located at the Willow Recreation Center north of Algonquin Road -- has been so popular since it opened nearly five years ago that it had to be expanded from a half-acre to nearly two acres, Bostrom said.
The park's 550 members include 313 residents and 235 nonresidents.
"It's getting to the point where we're going to have capacity issues," Bostrom said. "There's definitely a need. It's for the dog owners as much as the dogs. It's a social place to congregate. Dogs are able to get some exercise and run around, and owners are able to interact with other dog owners."