Worn-down Fisher Drive Park, anchored by its deteriorated baseball field, is set for a renovation that city officials believe will breathe new life into the area.
At Tuesday’s regular City Council meeting, Public Works director Jeff Vreugdenhil proposed the establishment of a municipal dog park at Fisher Drive Park, located just off the downtown. The project will include the demolition of existing fencing and the installation of new fencing, stone walls, trees, a sign and an entryway that includes a concrete landing. There will also be pet waste stations erected.
Features will come at no cost to the taxpayers, but from private donations. City Council ultimately gave it blessing to pursue the park.
“What we propose is a dog park that will be built incrementally, but comprehensively,” said Vreugdenhil, noting that Councilman Steve Stefanovich previously expressed interest in a dog park and asked that staff look into the matter. “It is in the same vein as a lot of the open space planning we have been doing for pedestrians throughout Clinton. It will be very tasteful with well-thought-out rules and regulations.”
Citing statistics, Vreugdenhil said nine out of 10 people have at least one pet.
“In our household, two out of two people have three,” said Vreugdenhil, to laughs.
Of seven pet owners, five have at least one dog, he said. According to the American Kennel Club, dog parks allow dogs to exercise safely and socialize with other dogs.
“They also foster a sense of community, which is something we are big on here,” the Public Works director said. “It enhances our community greatly through interaction between citizens and animals.”
There would be a concrete landing at the entryway that gives the dog owner an opportunity to go into a confined area and take their dog off the leash and release them into the open enclosure.
“There is no risk of a dog getting loose,” Vreugdenhil pointed out. “If people are passing, one going in and one coming out, things can go wrong and a dog gets loose.”
According to the proposal, there will be two decorated hydrants — one bigger than the other — at the entryway to indicate the areas for big dogs and small dogs (typically less than 25 pounds). Visitors to the park will be responsible for utilizing pet waste containers. Every Monday, Public Works crews collect the downtown trash cans and, with the implementation of the dog park, wills wing by Fisher Drive to empty those pet waste containers, “minimally” on every Monday and Friday, Vreugdenhil noted. If needed, that will be expanded to include Wednesdays as well.
Vreugdenhil met recently with Clinton Planning director Mary Rose, Recreation director Jonathan Allen and Police Chief Donald Edwards to talk in general about the rules that would govern the park. Among the rules, the dog would have to have a leash, proper vaccinations and be attended by the owner. Vreugdenhil called them “good common sense rules.”
Demolition and fence construction, estimated at $8,000, is expected to be completed by July 18. The park will open following the installation of signs, another $1,000. Waste stations will be $250. The city would pay general liability insurance annually of $250. Mowing will be done by the rec department, which already handles that area.
Vreugdenhil said the existing concrete walls and fence are currently “in a state of disrepair.”
“We will remove all the fencing, all the old concrete and immediately it is going to look better,” Vreugdenhil remarked. “Then we will slope the hills and build some seat walls out of stone we have on hand and the expertise we have in house.”
He showed stone wall features on Wilson Street and in the downtown, noting similar construction will be installed at the proposed dog park. The park will measure 160 feet long by 120 feet wide — to include a small dog side, large dog side, with some trees and water features inside, as well as trees along the road edge. There is already parking parallel to the road.
“With the additional hardscape features that we will provide will make this a very distinguished, nice-looking, clean facility,” he said. “It is something to make it more than just a fenced enclosure.”
Over time, Public Works crews can use time when they are not paving streets and working on city projects to add some other trees, benches and features such as exercise modules to the adjacent area, all to be funded privately.
Features and sponsorships, including signs in honor and memory of pets, are another option that other dog parks have installed.
“I think you will see quite a bit of interest in this,” said Vreugdenhil. “It is nothing new, but it is unique for our area.”
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