Residents of both Mount Prospect and Arlington Heights said the preliminary plan for a shared dog park is a good start, but many still have questions about how the rules will be implemented.
Plans for a dog park at Melas Park on Central Road in Mount Prospect were shared with more than 50 community members at a public meeting Thursday night.
"I'm just thankful this is moving forward; it has been a long time coming," Arlington Heights resident Phil Webb 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.
Under the proposed plan, there will be separate areas for small and large dogs and a picnic area for owners.
To start, the park districts will make 500 memberships available for $50 each, officials said. The two districts will split the estimated cost of the dog park, which is $171,500.
"I like that it's a start," Arlington Heights resident Marie Bush said.
But Bush said she was concerned that 500 permits would not be enough for all the dog owners between the two communities.
Some residents also were upset the park wouldn't be offering water for the dogs, but park district officials said that would cost too much money.
Residents also expressed concern about a draft of rules for the dog park that states no children younger than 12 would be allowed, which might keep families away.
Other concerns included the height of the fencing, lack of lights at the park and enforcement of the rules.
Either way, many residents were just happy to be included in the conversation.
"It's great to finally have options for dog owners," said Shannan Meehan of Arlington Heights. Even leashed dogs technically are not allowed at village parks now, according to Arlington Heights' ordinance.
Park district officials said they will look at all the comment cards filled out at Thursday's meeting and take those concerns into consideration when moving toward a final design and set of rules for the park, which they said could open as soon as June.
"A lot of these small concerns will all get worked out; I'm not worried," Webb said. "As long as we have a space for the dogs to run free, legally and safely, it'll be fine."