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H-F park board will reconsider Rover’s Run decision

Chris Holland, in pink shirt, makes a point during a discussion on changes at Rover’s Run, the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District dog park. Holland, of Homewood, was one of about a dozen residents who came to address changes at the dog park. (Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)

The Homewood-Flossmoor Park Board agreed to take a second look at its earlier decision to make Rover’s Run a free amenity.

“Nothing is ever set in stone,” Brent Bachus, president of the board, told about a dozen dog park users at the Tuesday, Feb. 6, meeting. He admitted the park “missed a step” by not getting feedback on the proposal before the change was voted on Jan. 16.

The park district created Rover’s Run in 2000 as a members-only amenity. It offers a great space for dogs to run. The park also offers agility equipment, a walking path around the entire park and a special training area. 

About a dozen dog park users told the park board cost isn’t the issue. For about 30 minutes, they shared how much their pets need and enjoy the park, a gated three-acre space on 191st Street east of Center Avenue in Homewood that allows dogs to run and socialize with other dogs. 

To get a yearly membership, dog owners pay a fee and present records of pet vaccination. The park district provides a key fob that opens the gate to the dog park. 

The dog owners raised concerns about dog safety and how to keep Rover’s Run a space for its intended use. They appreciated that the park district has mandated vaccination records for every pet included in a Rover’s Run membership. They suggested restrictions for preteens and teens bringing in pets because they are too young to control dogs. They also wanted better maintenance at the park so holes can be filled.

“We love (the dog park) so much we want more,” said Kimberly Beatty of Homewood who suggested a second dog park in Flossmoor restricted to smaller weight dogs.

By dropping the membership policy, staff believed it would allow more dog owners to enjoy Rover’s Run, Bachus said. Because both Homewood and Flossmoor require pet owners to have their pets vaccinated, it didn’t seem unreasonable to drop that park district mandate. However, pet owners from as far away as Kankakee have registered to use Rover’s Run.

“I don’t think any of us thought that when this came to us it was going to be as much a concern for residents,” Bachus said. “Nothing is ever set in stone. This is why we’re having conversations like this. I’m thrilled you’re here because a lot of times, we do things and it’s radio silence when we ask for opinions.” 

The park board is conducting a Rover’s Run survey for another 10 days and has gotten information from surrounding communities on how they monitor and maintain their dog parks. All the information and residents’ comments will be used by park board members when the issue of Rover’s Run membership is reconsidered, Bachus said.

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