Returning dog park plans cause more debate

Project tabled to allow for additional ideas to be developed

By: Joshua Gordon | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published July 11, 2018

 The township property along 21 Mile Road between Garfield and Romeo Plank roads has been earmarked for a dog park, but residents have concern about the proximity to their homes as well as to Fire Station No. 2.

The township property along 21 Mile Road between Garfield and Romeo Plank roads has been earmarked for a dog park, but residents have concern about the proximity to their homes as well as to Fire Station No. 2.

Photo by Joshua Gordon

MACOMB TOWNSHIP — A potential dog park along 21 Mile Road that has been in the works since 2016 will continue to sit on the shelf after the matter was met with some questions during the Macomb Township Board of Trustees meeting on June 27.

The dog park was proposed in 2016 to be built behind Fire Station No. 2 on the south side of 21 Mile between Garfield and Romeo Plank roads. The park would be just under one and a half acres.

Back in 2016, residents who live nearby voiced their concern about how close the park would be to their property lines and a lack of privacy because of it. Those concerns were raised again at the June 27 meeting, as well as concerns about causing problems for the fire station with more traffic.

The project was tabled for at least three meetings at the request of Clerk Kristi Pozzi to give the township and Parks and Recreation Director Sal DiCaro more time to look at other potential uses for the property.

Despite the backlash in 2016, Trustee Roger Krzeminski brought the item up at the last meeting, as he said there are many people in the community who want it, and those who speak against it are in the minority.

Krzeminski and Supervisor Janet Dunn voted against the motion by Pozzi to table the plans.

“I am sitting here not talking for myself, but for the 90,000 other people in the township who would like the dog park,” Krzeminski said. “All I am trying to do is put a dog park in where it was originally slated for years ago and reclaim (the township’s) property. We put sidewalks in thinking there would be a dog park put in there.”

A number of residents spoke against the dog park during the public comment section of the meeting, including Neil Kaffenberger. He said he already hears a neighbor’s dog barking at night and isn’t looking forward to hearing all the other dogs during the day.

“A dog park does not belong in the middle of a residential area, as it would only be 80 feet from the property line, which is way too close,” Kaffenberger said. “And I feel it should not be able to share the same driveway as the Fire Department, as that is a big public safety concern. Put it somewhere else where it is not surrounded by residents.”

Township Engineer Jim Van Tiflin said the park cost is estimated at $161,000, which includes $30,000 for a 4-foot fence around the park. If the park were to continue, Van Tiflin said they could move to a 6-foot fence at the request of Krzeminski for an estimated additional $10,000.

As part of the project, Van Tiflin said they would have a surveyor come out and stake the property line for the township and discuss residents’ items that are encroaching on the property. He also said there is concern from the Fire Department about sharing a driveway.

“As equipment comes out of the south side of the building, it is a blank corner, so there is concern and we would address that as part of the final design for the dog park,” Van Tiflin said.

Trustee Tim Bussineau, who wasn’t on the board in 2016, asked if there were any meetings with neighbors after concerns were raised two years ago. Van Tiflin said he is not aware of any discussions with residents since then.

Pozzi said she shared some of the same concerns as the residents, as well as concern over the traffic on 21 Mile, which is only two lanes. She said with the fire station and Waldenburg Park, which is located off 21 Mile just east of Romeo Plank, it already creates a lot of traffic in the area.

“The congestion along 21 Mile is already extreme and to add another park in close proximity would just create more congestion on that road and make it difficult for (firefighters) to get to emergency situations,” Pozzi said.

In December, the board approved a $14,900 contract for planning services on a potential park at the corner of 24 Mile and Foss roads. The plans could potentially include a dog park, a location that was highlighted back in 2016.

Pozzi said she feels that location would offer plenty of space for a dog park and wouldn’t affect as many residents personally. Van Tiflin said there wouldn’t be a lot of additional work to be done at the 24 Mile and Foss property to put a dog park in because a park would still be going there regardless. But he did say it is a more remote location.

Pozzi suggested DiCaro and the township to look at other potential uses for the property off 21 Mile, including pickleball courts.

“When this was tabled in 2016, it was to take time to find other ideas because the dog park was not a big hit,” Pozzi said. “Since then, the board has had no other ideas, so I’d like to make a motion to table this item and come up with options so we as a board can look at two to three options for the property and vote for what we feel is best.”