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Signs Removed, Trashed as West Loop's Dog Park Wars Continue

By Stephanie Lulay | May 16, 2015 12:55pm | Updated on May 18, 2015 8:43am

WEST LOOP — Less than a day after new signs were installed at a West Loop Park Friday warning dog owners about the park's dog poop rules, someone removed the signs overnight, tossing them in the trash. 

The yard signs were installed at Mary Bartelme Park, 115 S. Sangamon St., Friday in an effort to curb the park's ongoing dog poop problems.

Posted on grassy areas of the park's lawn, the signs read: "Pet waste transmits disease. No urinating or defecating in this area at any time." In nature areas of the park, the signs read: "Pet waste destroys the nature area. No dogs allowed in this area at any time!"

Less than a day after new yard signs are installed at Mary Bartelme Park Friday in an effort to curb the park's dog poop problems, someone removed the signs overnight, tossing them all in the trash. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]

Chicago Park District signs posted on light poles reading "dogs allowed in dog area only," already line the park.

About 20 of the new yard signs were posted in the park Friday and cost $500, said Armando Chacon, vice president of Bartelme Park Advisory Council, the group that paid for the signs.

Chacon said Saturday morning that he knew the yard signs would be controversial, but he didn't expect that someone would remove all 20 signs. The removed signs were tossed in garbage cans near the park, he said.

"I did see dog owners taking pictures [of the signs.] I [was] definitely concerned about the fallout," Chacon said. "We're just trying to respond to our folks and ask dog owners be held to a reasonable standard."

Despite the damage, Chacon said he would work to reinstall the signs in the park this weekend.

Yard signs installed in Bartelme Park Friday were removed overnight and tossed in the trash. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]

Rogue dog owners increasingly have bucked the park's rules on pet poop and allowed their dogs to roam off-leash, Scott Maesel, president of the park's advisory council, said in January. The dog problems have yielded an "overwhelming" number of complaints from people who use the park.

Maesel, who lives near the park with his wife, two dogs and two children, said that Bartelme's dog problems have been "consistently bad" during his five years on the board. Now that more people are using the park, the problems continued to get worse.

Later in January, in an effort to tackle the problem, Ald. Danny Solis (25th) suggested installing cameras to catch owners who failed to clean up their dog's doo.

The Bartelme Park Advisory Council made it clear at the time that they didn't want to resort to installing low-profile cameras yet, and instead said that they would move ahead with installing yard signs.

Solis previously said he is committed to asking officers to ticket irresponsible dog owners if necessary.

Dogs play in a designated dog area at Mary Bartelme Park in the West Loop Friday. [DNAinfo/Stephanie Lulay]

Under city ordinance, owners who fail to clean up their pet's poop face a $50 to $500 ticket for each offense, unless the dog owner is legally blind.

Pet owners also are required to restrain their dogs with a leash when the dog is off the owner's property. Owners who defy the city rule are subject to a $300 fine. But if the violation results in the serious injury or death of another person, the owner could face fines up to $10,000 and up to six months in jail.

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