Group envisions a facility north of the Metro Center
PRINCETON — Princeton Park Board members heard a presentation by supporters of a proposed dog park at Monday’s meeting that was attended by more than 60 spectators who support the idea.
Princeton Dog Park Friends is a group made up of Chris Blanford, Benjamin Fisher, Ann Marie Glaviano and Barry Mayworm. They have researched area dog parks to see how they operate and gathered ideas about how a dog park could be brought to Princeton.
Dog parks are fenced-in, grassy places where dogs are allowed to run off their leashes and play with their owners.
Blanford explained that he moved back to the area about 3 1/2 years ago.
“Through my medical training, I was in various towns, and we really enjoyed, my wife and I, going to the dog parks … in the various towns we lived in along the way."
He said they were happy to return to Bureau County, but “the one thing that we definitely miss is not having a place to run our dogs that was designated for dogs.”
In his presentation, which included visuals projected on a screen, Blanford reviewed various aspects of dog parks, how they operate elsewhere, and where the best location for one would be in Princeton.
After considering several park district sites, Blanford said the group recommends that a site to the north of the Bureau County Metro Center be chosen. A lawn already exists there, and existing Metro Center parking could be utilized.
The dog park’s proposed dimensions, as designed by Fisher, would be 200 feet by 133 feet. It would have an L-shaped fenced area for large dogs, with a remaining smaller fenced area for small dogs. In the middle would be a shelter.
A vinyl-clad, chain-link fence would surround the park, and members would access it through membership swipe cards.
Blanford said the group was looking for a convenient location with good parking and accessibility, good visibility, with access to electricity and water and that was already maintained.
If that location was chosen, holes three and four of the disc golf course would have to be realigned, Blanford said.
Blanford said the group hopes to raise money through donations to finance the park’s construction, and suggests that annual membership fees of $25 for park district residents and $30 for non-residents be charged to cover ongoing expenses.
In response to questions about liability, immunizations and visitors, it was stated that the district’s liability insurance that covered dogs at other parks ought to extend to this one; that dogs would be required to have rabies shots; and that out-of-town, non-member visitors to the area would not be allowed to use the park to start with.
The dog park group seeks approval of the site from the board, and only then would its members begin raising funds for the project.
Board members agreed to put the topic on the agenda for discussion at their next meeting, which will be at 5 p.m. Nov. 18.
Later during Monday’s meeting, after the dog park committee members and supporters had left, the dog park idea came under discussion as board members reviewed Superintendent of Parks Keith Scherer's report.
Scherer was asked what he thought of the dog park idea, and he said he had some concerns regarding nearby neighbors, snow removal, and how the proposed location would affect access to the area from the park district's Peru Street property.
Other discussion centered on the cost to reroute several disc golf holes, and the lack of an alternative site for the dog park. Several board members said they preferred having several options regarding a location.
The additional cost of water, electricity and employees' time dealing with the dog park was also brought up.
Park Board President Andy Marti said the board hasn't had that many people attend a meeting in six years.
Vice President Dennis Nink said, "We need to take a look at their needs," noting the dog park supporters are "taxpaying citizens."
Executive Director Elaine Russell said places other than park district property should also be looked at, and said the board did not have to make a decision about the dog park at its next meeting.
"There's a lot to consider here," Russell said.