Since Charlie Dvorak's dog, Buddy, died in June, the familiar path on which he walked the beagle in Northport Village Park has given him comfort -- and an idea.
He has asked village officials for permission to build a memorial for pets at the park, a project he's informally named the "Bud and Friends Lamp Post Memorial."
"In the world of bad news, this is something that can make some people happy," Dvorak said at Tuesday's village board meeting. "I think of my dog every day. I carry his picture in my pocket."
He wants to raise private funds to erect a lamppost where owners could attach the names of their pets. Proceeds from the name tags -- which he estimated could cost $25-$45 each -- would go to the village.
Dvorak has collected about 400 signatures for a petition supporting the memorial, and had handed out fliers encouraging the community to attend this week's village meeting, regardless of their feelings about his idea.
He said the effort has drawn the ire of a few park regulars -- one woman recently yelled at him to "get a life" -- but about 20 people showed up Tuesday night in solidarity in what turned into a nearly 90-minute debate of the issue at the meeting.
Mayor George Doll said he could not justify a memorial for pets when the village has put a moratorium on plaques for humans -- there isn't room for memorials or park benches with new names, he said. "We were running out of spots," Doll said. "And it was starting to sort of look like a cemetery."
Doll and village trustees said they have to consider residents who would object to the new lamppost. "My dogs are on the mantle -- right next to my father-in-law," said Village trustee Damon McMullen, a self-proclaimed animal lover who opposes the project. "That's what I think is appropriate."
Another dissenter was Dave Weber, owner of Seymour's Boatyard, which sits next to the park and is near the location Dvorak has suggested for the memorial. He said he hears dogs bark and fight as early as 5:45 a.m. "The dogs are taking over the park," Weber said.
Village officials tabled the issue until the Oct. 7 meeting. They want to give more community members who may oppose the memorial a chance to object.