The Chester park board has been directed to look at alternative sites for a city dog park, and come back to the city council with a recommendation.
At the request of citizens, the park board has been investigating putting a dog park in Cole Park to be used by residents and their pets. Members of the park board came to Monday's city council meeting to discuss the project and to share the guidelines they had developed.
However, a final decision was delayed, as aldermen questioned the site chosen for the park, and requested the park board investigate alternatives.
Alderman Dan Ohlau said the area is hilly, tree covered and very wet, and that with heavy use the grass would disappear and the area become very muddy.
Alderman Robert Platt asked if the park board considered alternative sites, but Kyle Koeneman, a member of the park board, said they were told this is the only area available to them.
Koeneman added the park board created a subcommittee to propose specifics and guidelines for the new dog park. The area would be fenced, she said, and dog owners would be required to pay a fee and receive a tag for their dog showing they were in compliance. The owners would be responsible for cleaning up their dog's waste and assume all liability for their animal.
Local veterinarian Dr. Jody Bainter, a proponent of dogs having the opportunity to run without a leash, has offered to oversee registration and collect the fees. Bainter said she is committed to keeping her practice in Chester, and in fact wants to find a larger location here.
Alderman Dan Geisen said several residents have told him they are concerned that a dog park would bring noise and odor to the area. Alderman D. Michael Blechle asked about the possibility of the dogs passing illnesses to one another, like worms, through their waste.
Bainter said most dogs do not bark when exercising, and that owners will be responsible for collecting their dog's waste.
She added the possibility exists for illness transference, but added that can also occur when dogs encounter dog waste while walking on a leash, too.
Some confusion arose based on what the park board was or was not recommending to the city council. Colette Powley, a park board member, said the board was not making a recommendation on Monday, but had voted only to present the idea to the city council.
Other park board members in attendance disagreed, and said they had in fact voted to bring their recommendation to the council.
Alderman Nancy Crossland, however, said it was unlikely the proposal as presented would pass the council, anyway. She asked the park board and subcommittee to look at other sites and then come back to the council, united in their proposal.
Meanwhile, the Chester City Council has agreed to allow dog owners use the old ball field at Cole Park to exercise their dogs.
Mayor Tom Page and the commissioners said they hope a permanent dog park can be agreed upon in a couple of months, but the ball fields can be used until then, despite the signs prohibiting dogs currently in place.
Recreation Director Patti Carter explained that dogs had been banned as that area is also used for outdoor concerts, movies, and as a practice area for PeeWee football teams.
A Chester dog park would be the first one in Randolph County.
• Steve Renner has been appointed Maintenance Superintendent for the city of Chester, and will supervise the city's Street Department. Renner, whose salary will be $48,460, replaces Randy Eggemeyer, who retired at the end of March.
• The council bought a Kubota tractor and mower for the Water/Sewer Department, and agreed to have the fire department proceed with designing a new pumper tanker truck.
• The council tabled two separate motions to vacate portions of city property -- one a portion of Dawnview Road and the second two alleys in Block 14 in the Cole and Erskines Addition.
Platt had concerns about the Dawnview closure, saying the road is used by residents living further out on the road. Ohlau, meanwhile, asked if the city would receive compensation for the land, to which City Attorney Jeff Kerkhover said yes, if the city wants it. The council tabled both proposals and said it would hold a Town Hall meeting prior to making a decision.
• The council approved a resolution citing a house directly across from the Methodist Church on State Street as dangerous and unsafe.
• The city will donate $3,000 to the Popeye Trail for the 2019 statues.
• The council voted to create six part-time Adult Work Program positions at $12 an hour, and to fund up to 660 hours in one year. They also approved Kevin Diercks as a part-time employee.
• The next city council meeting begins at 6 p.m. April 15.