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 The dog park is located on land to the north of Eppler Junior High School, where Hahn Street ends.

The dog park is located on land to the north of Eppler Junior High School, where Hahn Street ends.

Photo by Deb Jacques


Utica dog park near completion, grand opening planned for June

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published January 6, 2020

 A water fountain has been installed at Pioneer Park in Utica that will give water to pets,  fill water bottles or allow a  person to just get a drink.

A water fountain has been installed at Pioneer Park in Utica that will give water to pets, fill water bottles or allow a person to just get a drink.

Photo by Deb Jacques

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UTICA — Dog owners will soon have a new, fun place to take their little family members to play in Utica.

Pioneer Park, a new park that is located on land to the north of Eppler Junior High School, where Hahn Street ends, is nearing completion and is slated to be opened sometime in June this year.

Utica Mayor Thom Dionne said in an email that the dog park construction is complete and the city is just awaiting some nice weather to help the grass seed to grow.

“The dog park is very near completion. The park was hydro-seeded in November. Once the grass grows, the park will be ready for use. The grand opening will take place in June. The dog park could actually open prior, depending on Mother Nature’s willingness to help out,” he said.

During a meeting last year, the Utica City Council voted to approve a proposed dog park to be built off Hahn Street as part of the planned Pioneer Park.

An Aug. 28, 2018, town hall meeting at Utica City Hall focused on gaining community input on ideas for the new park in addition to thoughts on putting a dog park inside it. The city received a grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. for $500,000 to be used toward the land, which is a brownfield development due to it previously being a landfill. The city had to use the funds by the end of 2019.

Currently the park is not open, but it includes a gated area for dogs to play, a key fob entry system, restrooms, parking, a watering station, picnic tables and more.

The key fobs to enter the park will have to be purchased at City Hall with proper papers.

Utica City Councilman Gus Calandrino said in an email that the city is planning a special event during the grand opening just for the dog park.

“The city is planning an event with a dog parade in late June of 2020 to celebrate the grand opening of the park,” Calandrino said.

Calandrino said that in addition to the dog park, Pioneer Park will have other items for those who visit it.

“In addition to the dog park area, Pioneer Park will have grassy areas, a public restroom and picnic tables for all to use and enjoy. The park also provides easy access to the Iron Belle hiking and biking trail,” said Calandrino.

Calandrino said the city is looking into more possible grant money to be able to add more items to the park and the dog park.

“To be able to finish the park within the available budget, a few concessions were required. We had to shrink the footprint of the park area that would be developed in this phase. We also had to reduce the amount of lighting and delay purchasing signage. We are pursuing additional grant money to implement these items as well as new developments for the future,” said Calandrino.

The park concept was recommended to the city due to the type of land, a brownfield, which would not allow for residential construction.

The city was provided with free, clean soil that was laid over the brownfield location before the park was built.

Dionne said the park will have an annual fee that members of the park will pay to help maintain the dog park.

“The dog park will have an annual membership fee of $25 for residents of Utica and Shelby Township, and $35 for nonresidents. The fee will cover maintenance and cleaning of the dog park amenities. Each dog owner will be responsible for completing an application with their dog’s information, including vaccination records and dog license,” said Dionne.

He said that the city will be notifying residents of when the park is officially open and when the dog parade will be held.

“We will publish (when the park will open) on our social media, public access TV channel, on our water bills, and in our favorite newspaper,” he said.

For more information on the dog park and the grand opening, call the city at (586) 739-1600.

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