Sandi Bruegger
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Alderwoman seeks dog ban for 2 city parks

April 08. 2014 6:11PM
By Linda N. Weller [email protected]

ALTON — Dog owners and their pit bull terriers congregating on sidewalks around Hellrung Park led an alderwoman to seek a ban on dogs within two city parks.

“I went past Hellrung Park and there were about 10 dogs on leashes on the sidewalks,” said Alice Martin, 4th Ward alderwoman. “They were not in the park — but there were little kids in the park — and all the dogs were pit bulls. That bothered me with kids in the park.”

She said even if the dogs are on leashes, they could break free and harm a child playing in the park.

Martin said she received “quite a few calls” from citizens complaining about being intimidated by the people and their pit bulls, some having multiple dogs on leashes. She said some evenings there are 25 to 30 dogs by Hellrung with their owners.

“Some of them have two or three dogs at a time,” Martin said.

The calls are what prompted her to drive by the park.

Martin subsequently referred a resolution to the aldermanic Committee of the Whole on March 26, which would ban dogs from being inside Hellrung Park — at Union Street, East Seventh Street and Central Avenue — and James H. Killion Park at Salu, at Washington Avenue and Salu Street.

The resolution says that in some parks, “there is a problem with persons walking aggressive dogs,” which, “have tended to intimidate persons attempting to enjoy the city parks, particularly children,” and, “the dogs are found to present a potential danger to persons attempting to enjoy the parks, in that they could escape the control of their owners.”

The ban would apply to canines that either are or are not restrained, but not service dogs. A city animal control officer or police is to remove any dog found in the two parks and impound the canine.

On Monday, the committee unanimously recommended the City Council pass the resolution, and aldermen now will vote tonight on amending the city’s park rules. The issue will come back for vote in ordinance form.

Once enacted, the city would erect warning signs at the affected parks.

Chief Jason “Jake” Simmons of the Alton Police Department said he supports the ban.

“It’s an intimidating presence for the kids that go to the park,” Simmons said. He could not say why people have been gathering outside the park, other than “showing off their possessions.”

When asked why she included Killion Park in the resolution, she said there may be “copycats” who could bring their dogs to that location.

Alton has fencing up for a dog park in Hunter Russell Commons, but the facility has not opened as officials still need to set rules and procedures for people to pay for its use.

Linda N. Weller may be reached at 618-463-2559 or on Twitter @Linda_Weller.

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