DeKALB – DeKalb might not be getting another dog park in the newly annexed 12-acre site near Barb Boulevard and Kiwanis Park, although some residents have expressed a desire to have one because Kaatz Dog Park is on the other side of the city.
The DeKalb Park District Board of Commissioners could not reach a consensus Thursday during its July meeting on whether to include a second dog park in the Kiwanis Park Master plans, with some commissioners expressing concerns over financial obligations, maintenance and safety.
A dog park also would require a parking lot per city code, but no location has been decided for the lot or whether it would be near Barb Boulevard or South First Street. City staff said South First Street was not ideal because of its higher speed limit and proximity to the Barb Boulevard intersection.
Board President and Commissioner Phil Young said that although he supports dog parks, he’s worried about the it being in close proximity to children who might play at the park without proper fencing or management. Commissioner Dag Grada pointed out that residents often do not have their dogs leashed at many parks around town, even that’s a violation of park policy.
Kaatz Dog Park does not allow children, and dogs must be leashed.
“You are setting up an environment that has more risk, more danger, more liability than an open space in a field,” Young said. “I think whatever we do there affects the design, so I think before we can go forward with the Kiwanis Master Plan, we need to get this resolved.”
Commissioner Gail Krmenec expressed frustration that the board does not yet have a capital budget for the Kiwanis Park plan.
“I don’t see operating costs, maintenance costs, plans for the life of this park as proposed in the future,” Krmenec said. “Without those things, I really don’t think we can make a wise decision in terms of what direction we’re gonna go. We just can’t continue to build things just because people want them.”
Commissioner Dean Holliday said he does not support the dog park.
Grada said the plans are preliminary and that capital budget restrictions will better determine what aspects can be included in the Kiwanis Park designs – once the board comes to that point in the process.
The Kiwanis Park Master Plan also could include two large soccer fields, four medium-sized soccer fields, four small soccer fields and an artificial turf field to be used for soccer, lacrosse or rugby.
Additional amenities could include a nature playground, splash pad, pickleball and basketball courts, a pavilion, fitness stations, picnic shelter, restroom and a woodland exploration area.