Committee backs allowing dog park at Shepard Park
Proposal to be considered June 12 by City Council
BY KEVIN BONESKE
For the second time this year, Rhinelander’s Parks, Buildings and Grounds Committee has forwarded a recommendation to the full City Council to allow a dog park to be placed in one of the city’s parks.
The committee, which in January first favored having the dog park being located on the south end of Pioneer Park before that proposal was rejected at February’s City Council meeting on a 5-3 vote amid concerns about the dog park being in close proximity to city residents and negatively affecting Pioneer Park, voted Monday to recommend that the dog park be established at Shepard Park.
Tina Werres, who has been involved for around 10 years in the effort to build a dog park in the Rhinelander area, appeared Monday before the committee to present the latest plans for creating the park, which would initially involve putting up two fenced areas in Shepard Park near Boyce Drive to separate the large and small dogs allowed in those areas without a leash with the possibility of later fencing in another triangular area by the wastewater treatment center for a “throwing field.”
Werres first presented plans for the Shepard Park site at the committee’s February meeting and Monday provided additional information the committee requested for placing a dog park to be known as “Hodag Paw Park” at that location.
“The majority wants this, the site is the right location, financing is in place – we have the money…and the plans are ready,” Werres said.
Establishing a dog park at Shepard Park, Werres said, would be at no cost to the city.
“Once the dog park is built, there is no additional maintenance that needs to be done,” she said. “The fence should last a million years. The sign should last as long as any other sign the city parks put in.
“We’re not creating a monster here. We’re not creating any expense. (Parks director) Jeremy (Biolo) already mows that area, he already plows that area (and) he already cleans that area.”
A price quote from American Fence Company that Werres provided to the committee places the cost of installing black chain-link fencing five feet high around the two areas for dogs near Boyce Drive at $18,625. However, Werres noted the total dollar amount for constructing the dog park isn’t known at this point.
“We can give you the fence quote, but we can’t quote everything at this time,” Werres said.
To give the dog park the financial backing it needs to become reality, the project has received a commitment from Drs. Foster and Smith to help fund the project. Craig Catlin, a merchandise manager with Drs. Foster and Smith, also appeared at Monday’s meeting and spoke about the company’s plans to help construct and maintain the dog park.
“We have a commitment as Drs. Foster and Smith, being one of the large employers in the county, we are not going let the park fall into disrepair,” Catlin said. “What we’re going to do is – there’s initial up-front costs, big up-front costs – we’re willing to assist Tina’s group with funds they already have to bring (the dog park) to fruition.
“Any maintenance, normal wear and tear, normal upkeep, annual upkeep, we’re not just going to write a check and walk away. We’re there to make sure it is maintained. If we have our name on it, we’re going to make sure it’s a properly run dog park – rules, regulations, maintenance, fencing – anything to be successful. We’re in it for as long as we need to be there.”
Committee chairperson Sherrie Belliveau, who called the dog park backers’ efforts to gather more than 800 signatures from Oneida County residents on a petition in support of the project “an incredible feat,” said she has received nothing but positive comments on the proposal to establish a dog park at Shepard Park.
The committee’s recommendation that passed on a voice vote to allow the dog park there will be considered for possible final approval at the City Council’s June 12 meeting.