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Dog park a possibility

Park board considering residents' request

STERLING – Thomas Park may go to the dogs.

A few months ago, residents approached the Sterling Park District about the possibility of a dog park. The district, in response, formed a committee to look at the idea.

Now, the underused northern part of Thomas Park is under consideration. The park, along Lynn Boulevard, would be a place where people could let their dogs run without leashes, which isn't not allowed at other parks.

The committee has launched a fundraising plan for the dog park. Officials say improvements to Thomas Park could cost $150,000 to $200,000 – $70,000 of which would go for fencing.

Dixon has a dog park, called Park 4 Paws, just east of Washington Avenue. It had been restricted to fee payers, but the park district recently opened it for everyone. 

In a glossy brochure, the Sterling district’s conceptual plan for the dog park includes a pond, a dog hill, an agility course, and areas for small and large dogs. It would be called the Sterling Bark Park, with the motto, “where a dog can be a dog.” 

“Some dog parks are fields and fences,” said Larry Schuldt, the park district’s executive director. “There’s not much reason to take your dog there. It’s a place to take your dog to run, but it’s not much of an attraction. If we’re going to do it, let’s do it right. Let’s make it fun for the dog and the dog owner, but all those fancy things cost money.”

The district wants to make sure residents are serious about their support, Schuldt said. About 500 people have signed a petition in favor. 

“They probably would like it if someone else paid for it, but the question is how bad do they want it,” Schuldt said. “There may be some small funds from the park district to help. Everything we’ll do will be on the back end.”

At Monday’s park district board meeting, member Jennifer Zuithoff questioned whether a dog park would bother nearby residents.

Schuldt said some residents may have a not-in-my-backyard reaction, but they would soon find the dog park was not a problem.

He said he’s been to about a half dozen such parks.

“There’s some barking, but it’s not that big of a deal,” Schuldt said. “There could be worse things.”

He added that the park district could add bushes to muffle the sound. 

Member Jennifer Campbell said she understood that the dog park supporters asked the neighbors about a dog park, but found no opposition. 

The park district would like to see the donations come in by mid-March, Schuldt said.

Afterward, he said, the park district board would decide whether to go forward. If the district did, the committee would then contact corporate and large donors to assist financially.

For more information

Search "A Dog Park for Sterling" on Facebook, or contact one of the members of the Sterling Park District's dog park committee to learn more about the proposal. They are:

• Jeff Kuchel:

• Jessica Delimata:

• JoAnn Wilson:

• Kasey Magill:

• Kim Fisk:

• Micki Dettman:

• Pat McLeod:

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