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Park board makes dog park free for residents

Rover’s Run dog park, which is operated by the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District as a paid amenity, will be free for residents and their pups around May 1. 

Board president Brent Bachus said he saw the park district’s main objective as “how do we get more people to use the dog park. Maybe we over simplified it by saying we’ll make it free.”

The board voted Tuesday, March 19, to make changes to some rules, but left in place a need for Rover’s Run users to register the pet’s vaccination record. Users will only receive the fob to open the park’s locked gate once the record is complete.

Persons from outside the park district will pay a $45 yearly fee. H-F residents who already paid their $35 registration fee that was due Jan. 1, will receive a refund.


After the proposal to make Rover’s Run free was passed by the board in January, dog park users complained that they weren’t asked for input on the changes. The park board listened to their concerns at two meetings and conducted a survey.

With the vote Tuesday, the park board agreed to make changes and improvements asked for by the dog park users. 

One major hassle is the registration process which required users to register in person. Regular business hours Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. didn’t work for some park users, but now the process will be streamlined.

“The marketing department is already working on that. We didn’t realize how cumbersome that policy was, but we did listen and we’re working on that,” Parks Executive Director Doug Boehm said.

A new policy also limits dog park users to age 14 and older. Park users suggested the change saying younger children often cannot control dogs.

The park board also has had discussions with the Homewood Police Department about patrolling and answering calls from users. 

Board member Angie Coderre said it was obvious from users’ comments that they take pride in Rover’s Run. She sees it as a chance to have the park’s supporters work collaboratively with the park board, similar to how hockey parents raise funds to support their programs. 

“This is a really passionate group that we haven’t tapped in to,” she said.

Several speakers had raised the issue of their personal belongings being removed for the dog park, such as plastic chairs and water bottles. The park staff saw them as things left in generally poor condition, so they were removed. Boehm said the park board’s budget allocates $10,000 for benches and other amenities at the park.

Board member Debbie Dennison thanked the dog park users for their comments. She recognized that they love the parks, especially Rover’s Run. She appreciated hearing the comments, but she was ready to “move forward” on the issue.

Board member Steve Johnson said he appreciated the efforts by staff to review the proposal, answer questions and make a revised recommendation. He felt the park district would be able to address the issues about Rover’s Run maintenance. 

Bachus said the board’s decision to keep the registration process in place and leaving Rover’s Run locked should address concerns about safety.

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