By Benjamin Gohs
Boyne City Commissioners unanimously approved a motion to allow the Boyne City Dog Park Committee to further investigate issues related to a plan to create a city-owned dog park at the city’s North Boyne property.
The vote followed a report by the dog committee, and public comment on the matter, during the Boyne City Commission’s Tuesday Feb. 11 meeting.
“I think it’s a perfect example of taking an idea that was a city-wide goal … and a committee that was very, you know, dog lovers, and they took the idea and ran with it,” said Boyne City Commissioner and dog park committee member Tom Neidhamer… “You’re taking an under-utilized public property and turning it into a green space and I think it’s enhancing North Boyne tremendously.”
While early discussions on the proposed park included the possibility of using a parcel of land at Avalanche Park, the Air Industrial Park, Riverside Park off Spring Street and the former city dump off Old Horton Bay Road, the new proposal would utilize two city property parcels at the North Boyne Department of Public Works lot.
The lots are on the north (approximately 2.31 acres) and south (approximately 1.95 acres) sides of Ridge Street in between Escape and Addis streets.
Charlevoix Area Humane Society Executive Director Scott MacKenzie began the dog park proposal presentation.
The Boyne City Dog Park Committee includes six subcommittees for landscape design and site planning, construction and implementation, rules and regulations, grant writing, fund-raising and public relations.
“On gaining approval, the six subcommittees will meet to research development costs, establish fund-raising initiatives, research available grants, write rules and regulations, and begin a public relations campaign,” the committee stated in its site recommendation plan. “Because the Boyne City Dog Park is the first of its kind in Boyne City and the surrounding communities, a complete evaluation is not possible at this time.”
It was further stated, “However, the financial aspect of the park will be investigated to determine annual operating budget and whether usage will be on a fee or no-fee basis. The City of Boyne City’s recommendation will be the deciding factor. Further, an evolving plan will emerge as usage is observed.”
During last week’s meeting, Boyne City Dog Park Committee Co-Chair Michele Carter gave an overview of three possible incarnations of a dog park.
Options 1A and 1B would utilize both parcels of land, offer a large parking area at the center of the park, possibly an agility training area, a small dog area and a large dog area, dog recreational equipment, an area with shade trees, rest rooms, additional trees and other amenities. Option “A” would have a street entrance only off Ridge Street, while option “B” would allow an Addis Street to Ridge Street connection through the center of the park.
The third option would retain many of the amenities from options “A” and “B” but utilize only the northern-most parcel of land, and would offer less parking space which would face Ridge Street.
The proposals also suggest the possibility of eliminating Escape Street and a portion of Ridge Street.
In that event, Addis Street would be extended to Court Street.
A phased approach to the dog park has been proposed.
• Soil preparation and grass planting
• Fence and gate installation
• Dog waste and disposal stations
• Shade pavilions
• Landscaping additional trees
• Bathroom facility
• Agility equipment
During the public comment portion of the meeting, someone asked if there would be a full-time attendant to supervise the park during its hours of operation.
Boyne Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Jim Baumann said he likes the idea of a dog park in the city and felt that doing it in phases was the best approach.
Then, the commissioners opined on the matter.
Neidhamer said the area is fairly ugly right now, and that making it into a showpiece would be good for the city.
He added that fund-raising should be able to cover some of the costs associated with the proposal.
Boyne City Commissioner Delbert “Gene” Towne said he has been approached by citizens concerning a dog park on numerous occasions and is glad to see progress has been made on the issue.
Boyne City Commissioner Derek Gaylord asked about the dog activity—including reports of dogs running at large—at Avalanche Park.
“If we utilize this location, is that going to solve that problem?” Gaylord said, “which I think needs to be part of our deciding factor moving forward with this.”
He added, “The design has morphed from far beyond what was presented to us initially. As it was initially presented, Avalanche clearly met the capabilities and needs for that.”
Dog park committee member Trish Wright said signage could be erected at Avalanche Park in hopes of sending people to the dog park instead.
It was also stated by officials that there are laws prohibiting dogs from running without a leash at Avalanche but that those laws may not be enforced as rigidly as they could.
Gaylord also said the idea of charging a fee to users of the park would likely reduce participation in the park.
He also expressed concern over the potential of cutting off Ridge Street.
Boyne City Commissioner Laura Sansom said she liked all three proposals for different reasons.
Sansom asked about the possibility to use a noise buffering fence, and said she likes the idea of using North Boyne rather than Avalanche Park.
Boyne City Mayor Ron Grunch said he has walked his dogs at the North Boyne area for years, and that it is a good area with a beautiful view.
Gaylord also asked about potential liability of dog bites, and whether it would expose the city to additional risk.
The dog park committee will now continue to work with further investigation and planning on the matter.