Ferndale OKs dog park; construction to wrap up in three weeks

By: Joshua Gordon | Woodward Talk | Published July 1, 2015

 The Ferndale City Council during the June 22 council meeting approved plans for a dog park. Construction should last for three weeks at Wilson Park.

The Ferndale City Council during the June 22 council meeting approved plans for a dog park. Construction should last for three weeks at Wilson Park.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

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FERNDALE — Ferndale residents have clamored for a dog park within the city limits for years, and with unanimous approval during the June 22 City Council meeting, the dog park is now mere weeks from coming to fruition at Wilson Park.

Mayor Dave Coulter made parks a priority for the city when he created the Blue Ribbon Commission on Ferndale Parks during his 2013 State of the City address, and since that time, city officials have worked with the community to see what improvements are most wanted in the parks.

A survey conducted in late 2013 showed that a dog park was the community’s most-wanted new feature.

“This is something we have needed for a long time,” Coulter said June 22. “We did our due diligence to make sure it was in the right spot and it was the right dog park. It has taken a long time, but it will be worth it.”

The Ferndale Parks and Recreation Commission reconvened in March 2014, and in January of this year, along with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department, presented improvement plans for city parks in 2015 that included a dog park at Wilson Park.

The council approved the nearly $18,000 for the dog park during the 2014-15 budget process, and the city held a public hearing in May to get additional feedback from residents on the dog park.

The dog park will be installed in the southeast corner of Wilson Park, near University Street and Hilton Road. The dog park will be nearly 28,000 square feet, with areas for large and small dogs. Department of Public Works Director Loyd Cureton said he expects the park construction to be completed in three weeks.

“We took the public notice approach for the community to make sure we had input, and we also reached out via social media to ask for any comments the public may have on the dog park,” Cureton said. “I am pleased to report the response was overwhelmingly positive.”

Along with the construction of the fence for the dog park, Cureton said the DPW will be eliminating a ball diamond at Wilson Park to have space available for possible expansion of the dog park in the future.

The DPW also will remove the roller hockey rink in the park but keep the asphalt to allow space for future parking expansions. Additionally, landscaping will be put in on the south and west sides of the dog park fence.

“The only issues that came up that the public had a concern with was the possibility of a problem with parking and also hours of operation, both of which we think we have some handle on,” Cureton said. “The large roller rink area could be converted into parking if the dog park is wildly successful and overwhelms the area. And we have technology implemented in the city parks so we can wirelessly control access to the dog park, and the fence will be 5-foot tall, so it will be difficult for people to use the park unauthorized.”

Cureton added that the dog park will be very basic in the beginning, but the DPW has plans to continue landscaping it, to look at installing a drinking fountain, and to create a potential dog wash area in the future.

Councilman Greg Pawlica, who is a member of the Parks and Recreation Commission, said he isn’t in favor of dog parks, but he knew it was something that residents wanted, and he is pleased that the city can provide the amenity.

“This is one of those instances where me, personally, I am completely against a dog park, but this is something the residents wanted and had overwhelming support for, so I will not argue against it,” he said. “The commission was very diligent in identifying what the community wanted for the dog park, and we have the right foundation to expand it properly if need be.”

While Cureton said there are some details still to iron out, such as Americans with Disability Act compliance and dog park dues, the City Council members were all in favor of the plan.

“I think this is terrific,” Councilman Dan Martin said. “It makes me wish I had a dog that could peacefully coexist with other dogs, but since I do not, I will have to admire from afar.”

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