As a south River Forest dog owner, neighbor and proponent of off-leash dog time, I’d like to set the record straight (and expand on the coverage provided in Wednesday Journal in recent issues) on what dog owners in our village have offered as public comment to the River Forest Park District. I’d also like to thank the park district for listening to us and Commissioner Ron Steele for studying the issue closely.

We have never sought to establish a permanent dog park. We’re just looking for a few hours of weekly dog recreation time during early-morning hours in one River Forest park. Ideally, two parks?#34;one on the north side and one to the south?#34;would fully serve the needs of resident dog owners. We’re willing to start with one, even on a trial basis.

Since Cook County requires that off-leash dog areas be fenced, attention focused quickly on Washington Commons Park, which is our most completely fenced park facility. But to avoid using the same land as athletic fields for dogs, attention shifted to less-used park district land at Washington Triangle. We remain open to any park for dog recreation time, north or south.

A wide array of suburbs?#34;starting with Oak Park and Forest Park (plus the city of Chicago), and continuing with Evanston, Glencoe, Hinsdale, Lake Forest, Wilmette, and Winnetka?#34;provide off-leash recreation time, for a $25-$50 annual fee per resident dog owner, on existing park land. If these places have successfully addressed the issues of permits, parking, noise and clean-up, we’re confident River Forest can as well.

We’re encouraged by overwhelming local support. More than 100 residents?#34;dog-owning and non-dog-owning?#34;have signed our petition of support for the park district to allow off-leash recreation time. Beginning this month, our petition and information will be available at the River Forest PETCO at Lake and Harlem.

Our new community forum at www.rfdogs.com provides a “meeting space” for everyone interested in this issue to visit, inform themselves and participate in discussions and polls. We look forward to working with our neighbors and the park district in finding an effective dog recreation solution for all River Foresters.

Jeff Kraft
River Forest

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