Council likes dog park plan; questions location

By Michael Seffrin - [email protected]

SIDNEY — Dog owners will be pleased to know that a dog park may be built in Sidney, although its location still is up for debate.

Sidney City Council likes the idea of a dog park, but some members don’t like the location that was proposed during a council work session Monday night.

Parks and Recreation Director Duane Gaier presented plans for a dog park, including an offer by private donors to give $40,000 toward establishment of a park. He proposed that the facility be placed on city-owned vacant land adjacent to the North Street bridge, east of the Great Miami River.

“I get the warm fuzzies about a dog park, just not there,” Councilman Steve Wagner said. He said that area is a “prime location” that could be used for future development of the riverscape. He also said the area currently is used for athletic team practices and for parking.

Mayor Mike Barhorst agreed with Wagner, saying the city should consider using the river for recreational purposes more than it does now. He said the area was full of parked vehicles during the “Field of Flags” event this summer at nearby Custenborder Field.

Gaier answered that events such as “Field of Flags” happen infrequently and there are many other parks where athletic teams can practice. “There are neighborhood parks that are empty,” he said.

Gaier said the proposed area also would be good because it’s not in a residential neighborhood where there would be the potential for barking dogs to disturb residents.

City Manager Mark Cundiff pointed out that any use of the area in question would eliminate parking. “What are you going to use that for?” he said.

Councilman Darryl Thurber, a dog owner, said there is “a definite need” for a dog park, but suggested the city look at other possible locations.

Vice Mayor Mardie Milligan asked about using part of Julia Lamb Park on the west side of the river. Gaier said the available area would be much smaller and parking would be a problem.

In his presentation to council, Gaier said the Parks and Recreation Department has received requests for many years to develop an area for dogs to run off leash within a fenced, park setting. An early plan involved using an open field east of the wastewater treatment plant. With the coming expansion of the plant, this area is no longer an option.

The city’s acquisition from the Sidney Board of Education of Julia Lamb Field and the open field adjacent to the North Street bridge provided an opportunity to develop a dog park in an area already maintained by the city, Gaier said.

Gaier said his department recently was approached by a benefactor who has offered to donate $40,000 for a dog park. This contribution will allow the city staff to leverage these funds to acquire grant dollars to complete the estimated $177,411.25 project. With this contribution comes a request by the benefactors to name the dog park after them. Gaier said the donors want to remain anonymous at this time, but would be identified once the park is established; their names would be placed on a sign at the park entrance. Naming of parks after land donors has occurred at some other city parks, he said, and while this would not be a land donation, there would be a significant donation of funds for park development.

Gaier said a “bare bones” plan would enable the city build a park for about $55,000. This cheaper plan would include a fenced area, but not other developments such as water fountains and a paved parking area that is in the more expensive proposal.

The Sidney Recreation Board approved the dog park proposal at its meeting Monday afternoon, Gaier said.

At the end of council’s discussion, Barhorst directed Gaier to continue working on the plan and to study other city-owned land. He also suggested that Gaier talk to the Shelby County Animal Rescue Foundation to see if that group is planning a dog park, as there would not be a need for two facilities near each other.

By Michael Seffrin

[email protected]

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.

The writer may be contacted at 937-538-4823 and on Twitter @MikeSeffrinSDN.