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Elgin bonds with Hoffman Estates

Groupo Folklorico Quetzal were one many groups providing fest-goers with multicultural entertainment Northwest Fourth Fest Hoffman Estates Wednesday July 4th

Groupo Folklorico Quetzal were one of the many groups providing fest-goers with multicultural entertainment at the Northwest Fourth Fest in Hoffman Estates on Wednesday July, 4th 2012. | Katherine Peters~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: January 28, 2013 6:11AM

This is another in a series of stories on people and events that shaped our communities in 2012.

While they might not be Facebook friends, the towns of Elgin and Hoffman Estates bonded in 2012 to work on several projects, including a new Fourth of July festival and the creation of a dog park — both in Hoffman Estates.

Elgin contributed $15,000 to the four-day Northwest Fourth Fest on the grounds of the Sears Centre. That money largely went toward fireworks (which Elgin stopped having after 2008); and another $7,000 to cover personnel, as Elgin sent over four police officers, paramedic services and other public safety workers to the event. Hoffman Estates put about $100,000 toward the entire effort, while Hanover Township kicked in $5,000 and Hanover Park another $5,000.

The city council approved spending the $15,000 in March, but in June Councilman John Prigge was the lone nay vote for doling out the extra money. Prigge claimed the city might need the public safety workers in town and questioned Elgin helping fund an event not in its boundaries — albeit just a short distance from the city’s eastern border.

On the Fourth, the grounds of the Sears Centre and the surrounding business park were filled with spectators, with the crowd estimated at 30,000 that night.

The fireworks show ran short, and a laser light show was hard to see. There was a notable lack of portable toilets given the size and expanse of the crowd. And it took viewers a long time — in some cases, two or more hours — to leave the area afterward..

Still, with so much interest, organizers hope to work out these kinks and try again in 2013.

Running dog park

Past the celebration of the birth of the nation, Freedom Run in Hoffman Estates began operating Aug. 18. The fenced-in, off-leash dog park is a joint effort of the Hoffman Estates Park District, the city of Elgin and the Streamwood Park District.

The four-acre Freedom Run is so named as it is dedicated to military service dogs and their owners. The 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 $15 for residents and $20 for nonresidents. The fee allows for record-keeping that provides an amount of safety and security not found at a free dog parks in the area where anyone can show up with a dog with an assumption made that such pets are well-behaved and-up-to date on shots.

Elgin and Hoffman Estates Park District each contributed $53,865, and Streamwood Park District added $25,000 to convert what were soccer fields at Hoffman’s Canterbury Park South — which borders the far northeast side of Elgin — to the pooch park. The agreement is for 25 years and has an automatic renewal clause, and HEPD is responsible for all maintenance and paperwork.

Once again, Councilman Prigge wound up being the lone opposition to the project on the council.

Although Prigge has voted for collaborations that include the city spending $52,000 to build a new bison pen at Lords Park (with another $17,000 raised by a grass-roots group) and initially supported providing $15,000 toward the fireworks show at Sears Centre, he called the dog park a want instead of a need.

He also objected to the fees to use the facility and to city money (that in this case comes from developer fees set aside for parks) being spent on it. And he 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.

Goal exceeded

Still, Elgin had been considering having its own dog park for years, had a committee looking into the matter, and put out an online survey about dog parks in summer 2011.

And the HEPD master plan that was 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, 3600 Lexington Drive, an east-side site name after the Hoffman Estates Police Department’s first K-9 and dedicated to civil service dogs that have served the community.

“Freedom Run has continued to be a very positive addition to our community and the surrounding areas,” said HEPD Director of Facilities Mike Kies. “In speaking with some of the members, they are enjoying the park and the added value the experience is providing to their families and pets. Membership and operations have been going very well. We exceeded our goal of 200 memberships by the end of the year — currently we are at 264 memberships — and the three municipalities are all working well together.”

According to numbers provided by Kies, 108 of those park members are from Elgin, 74 are from Hoffman Estates, 51 are from Streamwood, and the rest are from other nearby towns. The park has been averaging 41 visits per day.

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