By Ted Schnell • BocaJump |Monday, April 9, 2012
A proposal for Elgin and two nearby park districts to build a new dog park appeared to hit the end of its leash late last month when the Elgin City Council failed to muster enough votes to advance the plan. But that rough stretch may be over.
The City Council on Wednesday is scheduled to reconsider its March 21 vote on the dog park partnership with the Hoffman Estates Park District and Streamwood Park District.
Echoing a 4-1 vote to advance the project on March 7, the City Council voted 3-2 on March 21 to approve the dog park partnership. A simple majority, however, was not enough to pass the measure — council votes on expenditures require a full council majority, or four votes. The city’s cost to participate in the venture would be $53,865.
Councilman John Prigge, who cast the sole no vote on March 7, was joined by Councilman Richard Dunne in voting against it on the second round. Councilwoman Anna Moeller abstained from the March 21 vote because she had missed the March 7 meeting and discussion. Councilman Robert Gilliam missed both meetings.
Dunne wants new vote
Normally, that would spell the end of the project. But under Robert’s Rules of Order, which generally guide how council meetings are conducted, an item can be reconsidered, but only if someone who voted against it asks for reconsideration at the next meeting.
Dunne said Monday that he asked that the matter be placed on this week’s council agenda for reconsideration. While he generally does not oppose the dog park, Dunne said voted no because he wanted to know how the facility’s user fees would compare with those at other area dog parks. He said he would like to see the project move forward.
The city formed a dog park subcommittee in 2008, after 485 residents signed a petition asking the city to provide one. The Elgin Parks and Recreation Master Plan adopted in 2010 identified a dog park as a No. 1 need and actually recommended the city develop five of them.
Dunne explained that the city’s cost of participating in the project is a one-time cost for a 25-year agreement — the equivalent of about $2,150 a year. In addition, the Hoffman Estates Park District would maintain the dog park after it is built.
Further, the city will pay its share of the cost using developer park impact fees. Those monies are encumbered, meaning their use is restricted to capital parks projects only and are separate from the city’s general fund, he said. Since those funds are restricted to capital projects, the Parks and Recreation Department cannot use those monies for such things as park maintenance, he said.
His vote against it on March 21, Dunne said, reflected his concern that the user fees be equitable to Elgin residents. He wanted a comparison of user fees from dog parks around the area with high, low and average fees from those facilities.
Under the proposal, users would have to register their dogs with the Hoffman Estates Park District. The annual user fee the first year would be $49 for residents of Elgin, Hoffman Estates and Streamwood, and $69 for nonresidents. The Hoffman Estates Park District will set user fees annually.
Dunne added that he is uncertain whether the city staff will have the information he wanted by Wednesday night’s meeting. He also said he would like to see the city eventually add leashless areas for dogs to some of its own parks in town.
Prigge contests location, fees
Prigge has objected to the city’s $53,865 cost for participating in the project, saying the money would be better spent on a core service. He also has classified the dog park as a “want,” rather than as a “need,” and said it ought to be postponed until the city’s revenue picture improves.
He also has objected to the location of the park on the border of Elgin and Hoffman Estates, and like Dunne, he has questioned the membership fee residents would have to pay to use the facility.
Friday evening, Prigge posted on his public Facebook page that “it will be shown that a dog park one town away to the north in W. Dundee is free to use and a dog park two towns to the south in St. Charles on Rt. 31 is also free to use.”Formulated in August, the proposal would have Elgin and the Hoffman Estates Park District each contribute $53,865 and the Streamwood Park District would pay $25,270 toward the $133,000 dog park. The park would be built on about four acres of land in Hoffman Estates’ Canterbury Park South, which is next to Cobbler’s Crossing subdivision on Elgin’s East Side.