Dog days never end at Elgin-sponsored bark park
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org August 26, 2012 7:18PM
Mike Holton and his wife Janice Redmond walk their dog through the Freedom Run dog park on Russell Road in Hoffman Estates. The four-acre park is dedicated to Military Service Dogs who have served alongside the men and women of our armed forces. August 24, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
Grand opening plan
The Freedom Run dog park dedication and grand opening ceremony is planned for 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 8.
Dogs are invited to the opening ceremony, but owners must have a membership to the park and show proof of immunizations. Memberships will be available for sale at the event.
Formerly Canterbury Park Soccer Fields, the site is located at 6150 Russell Road.
For more information, phone 847–285–5440 or visit www.heparks.org
Updated: September 28, 2012 6:04AM
HOFFMAN ESTATES — The dog days of summer might be over, but Freedom Run here is already getting tail-wagging, four-footed patrons.
The joint venture between the city of Elgin and two area park districts, where canines can play off leash, started operating Aug. 18 and is preparing for its grand opening on Sept. 8.
“There are a lot of really happy people that this is here. My wife (Janice Redmond) and I work at home and have been bringing our young boxer Mara to the park two or three times a day already,” Elgin dog owner Mike Hoten said.
Freedom Run is a cooperative effort of the city and the Hoffman Estates and Streamwood Park districts. Elgin and the Hoffman Estates district each contributed $53,865 and the Streamwood district added $25,000 to convert what were soccer fields at Hoffman’s Canterbury Park South at 6150 Russell Road — which borders the far northeast side of Elgin — into the pooch park.
The agreement is for 25 years, has an automatic renewal clause, and HEPD is responsible for all maintenance and paperwork.
Elgin had been looking to have its own dog park for years, had a committee studying the matter, and put out an online survey about dog parks late last summer.
Mike Kies, director of facilities for the Hoffman Estates district, said a district master plan put together more than two years ago noted the need for another dog park on that village’s west side to compliment Bo’s Run. The existing east side facility at 3600 Lexington Drive is named after the Hoffman Estates Police Department’s first K-9 and is dedicated to civil service dogs that have served the community.
Those factors led to the collaborative effort between Elgin and the districts.
Bo’s Run had 600 members for its 2011-2012 season, and about 350 people have renewed thus far, with that process just recently started, Kies said. That park also has been significantly expanded since opening in 2005.
Kies anticipates at least a few hundred people will sign up to use the new park. As of Aug. 21, 50 people had paid to use Freedom Run, with 17 from Elgin and eight from Streamwood, which is more than six miles from the hound grounds.
The four-acre Freedom Run is so named as it is dedicated to military service dogs and their owners. Kies noted that the Sept. 8 festivities will include unveiling plaques displayed along the walkway in the park that showcase dogs from each branch of the military.
The fully fenced site has separate areas for dogs above and below 25 pounds, an entrance holding spot, water stations, waste disposal bags, picnic tables, shaded areas for pets and people, and entry by key code card.
The fees for the park are $49 for residents of the three towns and $59 for nonresidents, with each additional dog registered at $15 for residents and $20 for nonresidents. Memberships for a higher fee are available to use both Hoffman Estates dog parks, too, Kies said. Rules, regulations and fees are found at heparks.org as is an animated video showing off the facility.
“What’s really cool about the park is that the agility pieces were put together by Boy Scouts helping a fellow scout with his Eagle Scout project,” Kies said.
Christopher Umeki, 15, of Boy Scout Troop 467, will be at the grand opening, too. He pitched the idea to the park district earlier this year. With the help of Friends of the HE Parks Foundation, he was able to raise more than the $600 estimated for materials and equipment, so more items were put in place at no cost to taxpayers, Kies said.
Umeki, a sophomore at Fremd High School in Palatine, said eight people helped him with the work. He got the idea for the project from taking his family’s dog to Bo’s Run, which is about a 10-mile drive northeast of Freedom Run and not too far from where Umeki lives in Hoffman Estates.
While some have been wagging their tails at the prospect of the dog park, there also has been a bit of growling about it.
A few members of the Elgin City Council had concerns — since assuaged — about the dog park’s fees and if they would be comparable to what similar places charged.
Still, Councilman John Prigge — who did not respond to requests for comment for this story — has consistently been against the project.
Though Prigge has voted for collaborations that include the city spending money to build a new bison pen at Lords Park with a money raised by a grassroots group and initially supported providing $15,000 toward a Fourth of July fireworks show at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, he has called the dog park a want instead of a need. He has objected to city money being spent, despite that it is a 25-year agreement with Elgin not having to maintain the facility.
And Prigge has noted that Freedom Run is not free, while two dog parks close to Elgin in the Kane County Forest Preserve District have no entry free.
A visit to one of those facilities, the dog park in Schweitzer Woods off Sleepy Hollow Road in West Dundee, showed there are differences.
Schweitzer offers dog walking paths into the woods along with an open area smaller and hillier than at Freedom Run and without shaded areas Freedom Run has. Small and large dogs mingle at Schweitzer, not separated like at Freedom Run. At Schweitzer, water faucets are outside of the fenced-in area, while at Freedom Run water is available inside.
Both sites have restroom outside the fences on their grounds. And both are, for the most part, self-policed by those in attendance.
However, Kies noted that charging a fee allows for record-keeping which provides an amount of safety and security not found at a free park such as Schweitzer where anyone can show up with a dog with an assumption made that such pets are well-behaved and up to date on shots.
“We require all paperwork,” Kies said.
Those factors were key to selling Elgin dog owner Hoten on Freedom Run — as was the social interaction for people and their pets.
“We only live 10 houses away, and the dog park has been a great way to get to know our neighbors in both communities,” Hoten said.