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Petition argues McHenry dog park costs too much

Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 5:04 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 11:33 p.m. CDT

McHENRY – Every time Johnsburg resident Kristen Thompson drives by McHenry’s new dog park, she wishes it were more affordable.

Thompson lives about five minutes from McBark Park, which is north of Kohl’s on the north side of McHenry. She would love to take Molly, her 3-year-old “shelter mix,” there.

“She’s very energetic, loves people and is very social,” Thompson said. “Plus it gives her a chance to run.”

An annual membership to McBark Park, which opened in September, costs $75 for residents and $125 for nonresidents, plus $10 per additional animal. Thompson thinks that is much too high.

She started an online petition asking that the rates be reduced or one-day passes be offered, and more than 500 people have signed. She plans to present the petition to the McHenry City Council at its Monday meeting.

The rates for the dog park were designed to cover the cost of maintaining the park, Deputy Administrator Bill Hobson said.

It would take about 200 residents to cover the approximately $15,000 a year the city estimates it will cost to maintain the park, according to Parks and Recreation Committee meeting minutes.

The cost estimate includes mowing, providing bags for dog waste, conducting daily maintenance such as trash pickup, and routine maintenance such as trimming trees, removing brush and maintaining the wood-chip and limestone paths.

One-day memberships were not offered because of requirements that dog owners show proof of rabies and distemper vaccinations.

Since passes went on sale Aug. 12, the city has sold 73 annual memberships.

Thompson doesn’t think the cost is worth it.

She pays the $120 nonresident rate to use the Lake County Forest Preserve’s four dog parks. (The resident rate is $44.)

Other close dog parks are in Crystal Lake ($30 for park district residents and $45 for nonresidents), Lake in the Hills ($40 for village residents and $60 for nonresidents) and Twin Lakes, Wis., ($20 for Kenosha County residents and $25 for nonresidents).

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