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Article updated: 8/15/2012 6:06 PM

No tax increase for dog park in Arlington Heights

By Melissa Silverberg

Plans for a proposed dog park in Arlington Heights will move forward, but not as a part of the $39 million park renovation referendum before voters in November.

The Arlington Heights Park District board gave staff direction this week to continue getting input on a potential dog park, or two, and look at it as a capital project for the 2013-14 budget.

Park district officials previously said a tax increase would be necessary to fund the dog park -- which many residents spoke out against -- but the park board believes project can be budgeted as a normal capital project in the future.

Commissioner Robert Nesvacil said separating the project from the larger, and more controversial, referendum may give the park district more flexibility.

"I'd also like to ask that the park foundation get involved with this, there's got to be a ton of grants available," he said.

The board on Tuesday approved placing a question on the November ballot for $39 million in bonds to fund major renovations at several of the district's parks. The referendum package initially included $400,000 for dog parks, but that was removed before the referendum resolution was approved. A similar $48 million referendum failed in March.

Park board commissioners have narrowed down possible dog park locations to Nickol Knoll Park, where a little-used baseball field would be converted; and to a grove at Melas Park.

According to the plan, the park will not be treated as a revenue facility, but will cover all operational costs with user fees. Excess revenue will fund special events at the park.

The plan also says that registered dogs will be given a special tag that must be worn at all times when in the park and a maximum of 500 dog park memberships will be sold. There would be a limited number of dogs allowed in the park at one time, but that limit has not yet been determined.

The draft plan calls for a $50 membership fee for a resident dog and $25 for each additional dog. Prices would be doubled for nonresidents.

Dogs are not allowed, on-leash or off, at Arlington Heights Park District parks, though they are allowed in parks owned by the village of Arlington Heights, such as Harmony and Dunton.

The Hoffman Estates Park District is expected to open a new dog park its sharing with Elgin and Streamwood on Sept. 8. The 4-acre park, located on Hoffman Estates' border with Elgin at 6150 Russell Road, cost about $133,000 to construct.

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