September 26, 2008

Dog Run’s Future May Be Decided By Court

By Leslie Hague

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The fight over the use of a dog park in the Schweitzer Woods Forest Preserve continued Thursday with a measure advancing that would reopen the area.

The Kane County Forest Preserve board's utilization committee passed a proposal to pursue a court ruling to clarify the will of Emily Schweitzer, who donated the area to the forest preserve after her death.

The resolution also included reopening the off-leash dog park, which was closed to residents at the beginning of this month.

"It's bad public policy," said John Fahy, a West Dundee Republican. "The only people complaining about the dog park is the forest preserve itself."

The committee barely passed the measure Thursday. It now goes to the same committee that voted to shutter the park.

Schweitzer, who raised Irish setters on the Dundee Township property, had a 5-acre fenced dog run and kennel on her land.

But in the paperwork deeding the property to the forest preserve, it says dogs cannot be off-leash between April and October. Supporters of the park, as well as Schweitzer's sister and lawyer, said that was never intended to apply to the dog run.

But that inconsistency was enough for the forest preserve to stop allowing off-leash dogs on the property this year.

Forest Preserve President John Hoscheit said he would favor going to court to get the issue resolved - a process he said could move quickly given no one objects - but he thought the park should be closed until then.

If the issue isn't fully resolved in court, it could reflect badly on the forest preserve for future residents who want to sell or donate land to the district, he said.

Officials at the forest preserve had been looking into other areas in the northern part of the district that could host a dog park, including Raceway Woods and Buffalo Park.

But Fahy said the alternate sites are undesirable because of proximity to traffic or neighbors who don't want it near them.

The proposal now goes to the forest preserve board's executive committee.

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