Man's best friend won't be allowed in Rosemont parks any longer, mainly due to safety concerns, park district officials said.
Dogs and their owners will be confined to the public sidewalks surrounding the Rosemont Park District's primary park -- Margaret J. Lange Park at 6140 N. Scott St. They won't be allowed to walk in the park itself.
The park district already had an informal policy banning dogs from Lange Park, as a result of an intergovernmental agreement with the village of Rosemont in which police officers asked dog walkers to stay off park property.
Now the park board is officially changing its policy on dogs, from one in which they were permitted on leashes, to one in which all canines are banned.
It's the result of incidents at the park that keep creeping up in which dogs are left unattended, said board President Rick Drehobl.
The board approved an updated policy on Tuesday.
"There's been baseball games where people tie up a dog to the bleachers, and kids walk by and the dog is growling," Drehobl said. "The park is a place where the kids are supposed to be safe. Accidents happen. We just don't want a problem."
He said 90 percent of the impetus for the dog ban is because of safety; the other 10 percent is in response to those who don't pick up after their dogs.
The dog ban not only applies to Lange Park, located within Rosemont's gated residential community off Higgins Road, but also Stephens Island near Higgins and Devon Avenue and a park district playground at a village-owned park on Glenlake Street west of River Road.
"There's been some complaints where someone has let a dog loose and run in the fenced area near the playground," Drehobl said.
He said anyone who violates the policy -- and is noticed by a park district employee -- will be given a verbal warning.
If the same dog owner is seen multiple times, the police may be called to give that person a warning or citation, Drehobl said.
"So people understand, we're not looking to make money or (give) citations," Drehobl said. "We just don't want a problem. We want to nip it in the bud."
Officials at the Illinois Association of Park Districts, which represents some 370 park districts, forest preserve districts and conservation agencies statewide, say they aren't aware of any other governmental park agency that has banned dogs.
"It would probably be a case-by-case basis for park districts doing this, determining what's best for their agency," said Bobbie Jo Hill, the IAPD's spokeswoman. "It's not something that's trending."
However, Hill said more and more park districts are designating separate spaces for dog owners to take their dogs.
There's now about 70 such dog parks in Illinois.
The Rosemont Park District will be installing new signage around the parks informing residents about the dog ban.
There are exemptions in the policy allowing dogs at Lange Park during scheduled dog obedience classes, and during Rosemont police K9 demonstrations.