A bare-bones dog park could open for canines in the Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect area next summer.
Residents can learn about the dog park planned for Melas Park and give their feedback at 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 9, at Central Community Center, 1000 W. Central Road in Mount Prospect.
Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect park districts rent the park land from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and will cooperatively develop the canine area at Melas, 1400 W. Central Road, officials said.
Dog owners have pushed for many years to get an area where their pets can run free, and searching for the right spot has been a main reason it has taken so long, said Maryfran H. Leno, president of the Arlington Heights park board.
"There's a significant amount of support for a dog park, but nobody wants it in their neighborhood park," she said Tuesday.
Melas is not a neighborhood park full of young children, and Leno does not expect complaints from homeowners worried about damage to their property values. Owners already take their dogs there illegally, she said. In addition, the park will still have a picnic area and athletic fields, and the two districts can split the estimated cost of $171,050.
"It will be a bare-bones dog park with a fence and a swipe keypad to enter," Leno said. "There won't be the bells and whistles like lights, water and a covered picnic shelter."
She said she has asked the district's staff to determine the cost of piping water to the area.
The dog range will be just under 2 acres in the northwest corner of the park just west of the detention basin and will have separate areas for large and small canines. Dog owners will pay a fee to use the park, and rules will deal with such issues as how old people must be to enter the fenced area.
Groups that should particularly appreciate the dog park are residents of condominiums in downtown Arlington Heights and Mount Prospect, she said.
"This is something people have been asking for; for a lot of people dogs are part of the family," Leno said. "It's the best first step toward having a dog park. We'll see what the response is and go from there in the future. Maybe down the road do we need to do one on the north side of town?"