Council intends to designate land for dog park

In the next five weeks, a Wapakoneta city official intends to have determined a location for a new dog park.

But construction of the park could take longer, unless a local Boy Scout, volunteers and donors come forward to hasten its development since the city’s Parks and Recreation Fund is strapped.

Wapakoneta 1st Ward Councilor Jim Neumeier presented his findings after touring nearby dog parks as well as possible city land to locate a dog park to a group of 15 people attending Wednesday’s Parks and Recreation Committee meeting.

“We are going to look at the Lanning Farm property a little more and what we could do out there with what will be available,” Neumeier told the Wapakoneta Daily News after the meeting. “We are going to await the final decision from the ODNR (Ohio Department of Natural Resources) on using land at Harmon Park since it is in the flood plain and probably go out to Breakfast Optimists and talk to the soccer parents about using ground in the southwest corner of the park.”

Neumeier, who chairs the Parks and Recreation Committee, said they could designate an area for the dog park and then build a smaller dog park with the intention to expand the fenced-in area to the planned footprint as more donations and money became available.

“The main thing is we want to get something started, get something in the ground and find out if it is popular and as the funds become available there is no reason we couldn’t expand on it,” Neumeier said. “The Harmon Park proposal probably wouldn’t expand because we would probably start out with the maximum footprint we could get and probably the same thing for Centennial.

“By Aug. 1 I want to be able to say here is the land we have available for your dog park — go to it,” he said.

Neumeier and fellow committee member 4th Ward Councilor Chad Doll opened the meeting with a PowerPoint presentation of visits to the dog parks in Buckland, Celina and Lima. Doll also talked with city administrators in Celina and St. Marys. St. Marys is planning to build a dog park.

The dog park in Buckland is between one-half and one acre of ground, divided into two sections for small and large dogs. The park is encompassed by a 3-foot tall fence and there are no amenities.

The dog park in Lima had taller fences and a few amenities. It is attached to the dog warden’s facility. It is 60- by 220-feet.

The dog park in Celina is approximately three acres and is situated along Grand Lake St. Marys. It also is divided among small and large dogs, with large dogs being canines 20 pounds and heavier. The park has benches, dispensers, a full list of rules and a staging area. The park was built with funds provided by the local Rotary Club.

Neumeier also presented images of possible locations in Wapakoneta for the dog park including the southwest corner of the proposed Breakfast Optimist Park where the former Centennial Elementary School is located, along the Auglaize River at Harmon Park between the gazebo and school property and the Lanning Farm near the Wapakoneta Wastewater Treatment Plant on Herbstreit Court.

Neumeier said he and Safety-Service Director Bill Rains have contacted ODNR officials regarding the Harmon Park area being in a flood plain.

“I really like this place because of the proposed riverscape walking path, there is plenty of parking, a nearby building will house a bathroom and the gazebo is nearby,” Neumeier said. “I personally think this is the best place for it (dog park).”

The Lanning Farm, which is comprised of 17 acres with several acres devoted to the city’s water well field, has some ground already encompassed by a fence, is away from residential property and has plenty of parking. It does not have any trees or nearby bathrooms. A water source could be brought to the site for water for the dogs.

Neumeier said he has not talked to a city-elected official against the project, but people need to be aware of the park’s financial situation. The city has pledged $60,000 for the purchase of the Harmon Park property and buildings and the Centennial Elementary School property. The city is using $20,000 each year for the next three years for the purchase of the property.

“I think we are headed in the right direction,” Neumeier told those gathered in council chambers. “I do reiterate that the Recreation Department financially is in no position to fund any part of this other than our normal maintenance of these properties.

“This is not to say that down the road that we can’t be involved in it once we get the Optimist Park property paid for,” he said. “With that said, I would like to see this get started.”