Make no bones about it: after a long and frustrating process, the Wellesley Lions Club is finally gearing up to build its temporary leash-free dog park. With a location at the Wellesley Community Centre picked out and fundraising about to begin, club member Richard Franzke is eager to see the long-discussed proposal finally come to fruition.
“I haven’t had anybody come to me thinking this was a bad idea,” said Franzke. “We’re going to show it works, we’re going to show we can manage a park, and then we’ll go from there to come up with a permanent park.”
The community centre’s centralized location was key to its appeal, Franzke noted. “We wanted to have minimal environmental impact, and minimal impact on the land. We didn’t want people driving here – we wanted to have a nice location where people could walk their dogs as part of their regular exercise routines.”
The Lions Club will officially launch fundraising for the dog park at the Wellesley Spring Home and Garden Show, which runs May 1-3. At the event, patrons will be able to “Buy a Bone, Build a Park” – offerings as low as $25 and as high as $250 will earn donors a permanent inscribed bone at the park. Businesses can donate $500.
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“The dogs need a good run – somewhere you can throw a ball,” said Franzke. “What’s happening right now is, people don’t have anything … the dogs are mixing with the kids, and mixing with the feces, and everything else. That’s why the Lions said, ‘Let’s put in a proper dog park.’”
Earlier this year, the Lions proposed buying and developing land at Nafziger Road and Gerber Road, and then donating the park to the township, but an environmental probe revealed “potential for questionable soil conditions,” and council declined the proposal.
Instead, Wellesley council last month approved the community centre location, but only on a temporary basis. Sharing space with an arena, baseball diamonds, and splash pad, the dog park will have to find another, permanent home in the township within five years. In the meantime, the Lions will work with council to find more public recreation land, currently lacking in Wellesley’s more populous areas.
“We’re ensuring that anything that we use here is going to be reusable at the new property. The fencing will be pounded in instead of being cemented; the disposal systems will be on posts that we can remove; so any investments we make here are investments for the next park.”
Franzke sees the community centre location as an opportunity to demonstrate how the park will work. “We know there’s a groundswell of support … Now we’re just going to prove it.”
The “Buy a Bone, Build a Park” drive will take place at the Wellesley Spring Home and Garden Show, May 1-3 from 5-9 p.m., at the Wellesley Community Centre (1000 Maple Leaf St.).
The group hopes to have the park built by August.