City again marking territory for dog park

Proposed new location would require community support, funding
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Shawano residents who have been panting for a city dog park for years might soon have another proposed location to consider, four years after the Common Council put down a previous proposal.

Though still early in the process, the city is eyeing a vacant city-owned lot in the industrial park at Industrial Drive and Jaycee Court, across from the Shawano County Humane Society.

If that property becomes a city dog park, however, it won’t be city money that makes it happen, according to the current proposal.

It would be the aid and support of community organizations and their donations to the project, according to city administrator Eddie Sheppard.

“It’s very early in the conversation,” Sheppard said. “We put together some cost estimates and how it can be done but at this point it’s just an opportunity for us to create the vision for it.”

Sheppard said if it actually does come to fruition, it will require community support and community funds to make it happen.

The city has not budgeted any money for the dog park.

“It’s one of those things where we think we’ve got a good spot,” he said. “We think we might have some partners in operating it, but we haven’t budgeted for it. It’s going to require community buy-in and community input.”

There is also no timeline for the dog park actually happening.

“At least we’ve got a concept now that we can go out and start talking to to folks about the interest level and if anyone is willing to sponsor this or put their name on it and try to make it happen,” Sheppard said.

“We don’t have any plans in the near future to come up with these funds, but we do know there’s been a big desire in the community to have something like this,” he said. “It’s something we hope to pull together with partners.”

Sheppard said there have been some discussions with the Humane Society about a potential partnership if it were at the proposed location.

“Being that they’re right there, they could help with potentially maintaining it and working with us to make it a success,” he said.

“We don’t have anything official,” he said.

Dusty Martzke, president of the Shawano County Humane Society, also said the proposal is in the very early stages and hasn’t even been formally discussed by the entire humane society board yet.

“It’s in the very, very, very early stages right now,” Martzke said. “It was just an idea that had come up and we wanted to explore the possibilities.”

Martzke said the board would be discussing the idea at an upcoming meeting.

The property is vacant, city-owned land in the industrial park that could some day be developed, but remains unused right now.

Sheppard said he and Parks and Recreation Director Matt Hendricks have been looking at this location for some time, given the lack of residential housing in the area or other uses a dog park could potentially disrupt, which had been a complaint with the previous proposed location.

Four years ago, the city was looking at a 6-acre portion of property along Sunset Boulevard, between Pick ‘N Save and Channel Trace before neighbors raised concerns about noise from the park and its impact on property values.

The city included $50,000 in that year’s capital improvement projects budget for the park. The expected cost of the project at the Sunset Boulevard location would have been $49,794, with $28,793 of that going for a fence around the park.

The Shawano Common Council ultimately rejected the idea.

It wasn’t the first time a proposed dog park had come up.

Dog park enthusiasts approached the Shawano County Board on two occasions in 2012 to establish the park at a clay borrows site on Rosebrook Road in the town of Belle Plaine. It was voted down twice over concerns about the proposed lease, the expense and what entity would be responsible for it.