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Commission OKs dog park
Plans for a new dog park around the water tower in Monroe's North Industrial Park features 2.63 acres with separate areas for small and large dogs and an off-street parking lot for visitors. (Photo supplied)
MONROE - Members of the Monroe Plan Commission on Wednesday approved a dog park on 2.6 acres of city land around the water tower in the North Industrial Park.

Presenters Jeff Newcomer, Ryan Ziltner and Katherine Frey laid out their plans to construct two off-leash dog areas created by 5-foot chain link fence.

"We're trying to make this as simple as possible for everyone," Ziltner said. "We already found there are systems in place which can be used."

Their mission statement aims to include secure areas for both small and large dogs to roam separately and socialize together. The group said they hope "to establish an access-controlled, fenced-in, off-leash dog park where well-behaved canine citizens can interact, exercise and play in a clean, safe and secure environment."

The area around the water tower currently has a paved driveway and a water source. Newcomer said because the area is already plowed in the winter, the small parking lot planned for the park would not cause much extra work. Currently the water utility mows the grass in the area, but Ziltner said organizers assume the city parks staff would take over that responsibility once it was designated a dog park. He added that because of the traffic a dog park would bring, the need for lawn maintenance would lessen.

However, Park Director Paul Klinzing said he would be concerned about upkeep of the area because people would be utilizing it frequently.

"When you have a facility open to the public, it needs more attention," Klinzing said.

The group had not spoken to the water utility to see it if would prefer to keep maintaining the area once it was made into a dog park.

Ziltner said the plan for the park came from Newcomer, who had attended a number of planning meetings for the city's newly adopted comprehensive plan. Residents mentioned the need for a city dog park several times.

Ziltner also said the group had done its preliminary due diligence by researching the land use and any possible plans to use the area for development in the future. There were none. He added that the dog park would be more than a "dog-friendly park" like Forest Prairie Park near the Monroe Municipal Airport and could be a great asset for the city to bring in more young professionals.

Ziltner said the city could also attract people from area municipalities.

"This would be a huge asset to the city of Monroe," Newcomer said.

Users would have to register for use of the park and verify their dog is current on vaccinations. Permits to use the park would cost $30 a year.

Ziltner and Newcomer said they were confident in their ability to raise donations for the park. Estimated costs for the project include three phases. In the Phase I, fixed costs such as the fencing, parking area, cement around the entry, signage, a waste dispenser, garbage cans, the sponsor board and dog tags would be roughly $40,000 to $45,000. Phase II could cost an additional $5,000 to $15,000 for landscaping, benches, a water spigot and water winterization. Phase III could also reach an additional $15,000 depending on the amount of landscaping and benches, possible blacktop for the parking area, decorative fencing, a monument sign and upgraded water for both dogs and owners.

"The goal, the platinum option, would be of course to have all of those things," Ziltner said.

The Plan Commission recommended the project to the city council. If approved, the matter would have to be allocated to the Judiciary and Ordinance Review Committee to modify the code designation of the land to allow a park to be established there.