The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is seeking a state grant to install its first off-leash dog area at Stony Creek Metropark.

The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority is seeking a state grant to install its first off-leash dog area at Stony Creek Metropark.

Concept plan provided by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority

Off-leash dog area proposed for Stony Creek Metropark

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published March 19, 2019


ROCHESTER HILLS — A new off-leash dog park could be on tap for Stony Creek Metropark in the next few years.

The Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority board of commissioners is seeking a grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund to develop the off-leash dog area, the first of its kind in the metropark system.

“We don’t have anything like this in any of our other metroparks,” said Nina Kelly, the chief of planning and development for the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority.

The project, Kelly explained, was developed in response to public input.

“Back in 2016, we did the master plan for Stony Creek, and we did a lot of public input gathering — through an online survey and through a couple of public meetings — and while we did not include anything in the master plan about any kind of dog facility, we did record that there was quite a lot of interest in that. So we’ve been looking at it there for a while now,” she said.

Gary Hopp, the park operations manager for Stony Creek Metropark, said the off-leash dog area would be located at the Oakgrove picnic area.

“There’s a fair number of mature trees in the area for shade. It’s also an area of the park that is not overly utilized right now for other activities, so it seemed to be a natural fit for that location,” Hopp said.

The proposed concept plan is for an accessible off-leash dog area with two separate fenced-in areas — one for small dogs and one for all dogs, nearly 3 acres each.

“To begin, we will have two different dog areas, one for small dogs and one for large dogs. The thought is, we will see how busy we are and how much usage we get, but it is being designed today so that if we need to add additional fields for rotation purposes, we will be allowed to do that without having to reinvent the wheel, if the demand requires that,” Hopp said.

The project will include a 10-foot-wide asphalt path from the parking lot to the concrete “bullpen” entryway area, which will include a water bottle-filling and pet bowl-filling station, and other amenities.

The dog park was designed to be accessible to all, according to Kelly, who said there will be a handicapped-accessible unisex portable toilet; an accessible aggregate surface in each high-traffic area at turf entry and on paths extending into the off-leash areas to allow those who use a wheelchair to play fetch with their dogs; as well as parking lot striping and signs for three accessible parking spaces.

Officials anticipate the project to cost approximately $138,500. Kelly said she will submit a grant request for $50,000, which metropark officials would match with $50,000.

“The rest is an in-kind match that is mostly wages and salaries, because we are proposing that our staff be involved in the installation of certain components of the project. So the remainder, $38,500, is the in-kind value of their salaries,” she said.

The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund will notify grant recipients at the end of the year.

“There is a potential that if we were awarded, it could be constructed toward the end of 2020 or (the) early, warmer months of 2021, because we have to work around the weather,” Kelly said.

Dogs are currently allowed in certain areas of Stony Creek Metropark, but only if they are on a 6-foot leash.

“Dogs are not allowed in the nature center area, which is the area north of 28 Mile Road, and due to health department regulations, we do not allow dogs at our two beaches, but the rest of the park is a dog-friendly environment, as long as they are on a 6-foot leash at all times,” Hopp said.

Stony Creek Metropark is one of 13 metroparks. It is a 4,435-acre park that straddles the border of Macomb and Oakland counties, north of Rochester, and covers four communities: Shelby Township, Rochester, Oakland Township and Washington Township. It connects to the Macomb Orchard Trail and lies just east of the Iron Belle Trail.

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