Canines at KLM might be fenced in

Hinsdale’s Katherine Legge Memorial Park may soon become home to the village’s first dedicated dog park.

At a special parks and recreation commission meeting Sept. 14, commissioners heard a plan to create a 3.35-acre fenced area in the southwest corner of KLM for dogs and their owners. Users would need to register to enter the gated space, but the facility would be available during park hours instead of just the limited morning and evening hours off-leash dogs are currently allowed in the park, village officials said.

“It would eliminate the off-leash hours at the park and replace it with a controlled access, fenced dog area,“ Heather Bereckis, superintendent of parks and recreation, told commissioners.

Dogs now can roam across approximately 13.5 acres of the park, space shared with disc golfers, lacrosse players, wedding parties and others, which creates an uneasy coexistence, according to Bereckis. She said there are often unleashed dogs in the parking lot in violation of the rules and that police officers are assigned to keep dogs from approaching users of the KLM Lodge.

“We get a handful of complaints every week,” she related. “This (fenced park) is going to create a safer environment for the dog owners and all park users.”

The dog park’s cost would be covered by Hinsdale Meadows developer Edward R. James Homes, which had previously agreed to regrade three KLM lacrosse fields as part of the approval for the residential project to the north of the park. So far one of the fields has been regraded. But assistant village manager Brad Bloom told commissioners that Hinsdale Meadows homeowners have complained about trucks constantly hauling dirt through the development into the park by way of a temporary entrance.

“(The developer) had a lot of pushback from the residents to go forward with the additional parks because they absolutely did not want to live through that again,” Bloom said.

Additionally, once the dirt excavated from the home sites is exhausted, the village would have to buy more, he said. The removal of trees as part of the regrading has also troubled residents.

“I think at this point in time, (the dog park) is a better fit for KLM Park,” Bloom said of shifting the use of the park improvement funds.

Commissioner Heather Hester agreed.

“(That tree and dirt cost) is not worth it to me if a dog park is the better fit for the community,” she said. “I think it’s fantastic.”

Bereckis said the proposed dog park site on KLM’s south side is under-utilized.

“It’s really not used right now for anything, so it would be a nice space to put it,” she said.

Commission Chairman Alice Waverley asked if barking dogs might upset the neighboring retirement community, King-Bruwaert House. Bereckis said the park will be open all day, which should mean less concentrated use and nuisance.

Officials acknowledged some may object to the large reduction in usable area. But Bereckis reiterated that protecting people is paramount.

“We love that the dogs can have access to a place to run, but there’s a huge safety issue that we’re running into,” she said.

Annual expenses for the village to operate the fenced dog park are estimated at $11,000, including $3,500 for dog waste bags and $2,500 for a fob access system.

The board is expected to make a recommendation on the proposal at their next meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12.

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean