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Wellesley Lions propose dog park for village

The Wellesley Lions Club is looking to build a leash-free dog park in the Village of Wellesley.

A delegation headed by club member Richard Franzke addressed councillors meeting Tuesday, pitching the park proposal.

“We recognize there is an outstanding need in Wellesley for more parks and recreation space,” said Franzke. “There are a high proportion of dog owners within the village and the township overall so a new recreational park with a lease-free park would be a welcomed addition to the community.”

The new park, which would be called Lions Park, would also offer safe walking trails as well as the fenced in area where dogs could run freely.

Franzke told council that 25 per cent of households in the village own a dog and that number increases to 34 per cent taking the whole township into account.

Dog owners are currently using parks that are not designated for dogs, including Albert Erb Park, the ball diamonds and soccer fields in the village, said Franzke.

“We would like to develop a leash-free dog park within the village limits of Wellesley and we are willing to purchase the required land to build this park.”

The club will be partnering with the Wellesley Trail Association to fully develop the land located at the corner of Nafziger Road and Gerber Road near the hydro substation in Wellesley. The property is owned by Ken Lazenby and Bill Melnik, who have agreed to sell the land to the Lions Club, said Franzke.

The Lions will handle the development of the dog park, while Wellesley Trail Association will look after trail development.

In the proposal, the dog park will have a small parking area with up to 10 spots for vehicles, as well as dog waste disposal unit, bio-degradable bag dispensers and will be fenced in with a gated transfer area.

“We are very conscious of the neighbours and the residents of Wellesley and we don’t want to disturb them. We have chosen the location that we believe will have the least impact on the neighbours,” said Franzke. “If we build it, they will come.”

The Lions conducted a survey between November 23 and 27, determining that 54 residents are interested in the idea of a dog park and are willing to use it five to 10 times a month.

The cost of the park is projected to be $74,000 including the purchase of the property. An estimated $32,000 will be needed to develop the trails through the land and build a bridge across the creek that runs along the northeast section of the property, bringing the total of the proposed park to $106,000.

The Lions are willing to spearhead the funding for the park and will be approaching funding agencies for support.

The club is willing to buy the land, develop the park and then donate it to the township, which means the township would be liable under its existing insurance policy.

“This has a lot of positives to it, including developing a piece of land that is just sitting there. However, there are a lot of things that can put the brakes on this project. If this land turns out to be a brown field there is no way the township is going to take liability for that,” said Coun. Jim Olender, worried about potential contamination issues.

“That is why we want to work in partnership with the township and look at what might be obstacles and move forward,” said Franzke.

Mayor Ross Kelterborn had reservations as to who would operate the park, who could use the park and who patrols the park if an incident occurred involving a dog.

Further discussions will need to take place with the Lions Club and township staff and management group as to what the next step will be in developing the off-leash dog park.

The goal of the club is open the park by late summer 2013.

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