Superior’s City Council agreed on a location for a new dog park in the city.
It’s an idea that doesn’t sit well with either the organization that will operate the new city animal shelter, or the Jaycees, which planned to pay a good portion of the cost to build it.
The site approved by the council is adjacent to the shelter under construction between Moccasin Mike Road and Bear Creek Park.
However, funding for the park is up in the air.
“I just want to be clear that the Jaycees have gone on the record to support a dog park, to give this gift to the city, and we’ve gone on record to support the Texas Avenue site,” said Brent Fennessey of the Jaycees. “If you guys want to take that in a different direction, we’re going to have to take that back to our committee. The Jaycees, we’re putting $20,000 into this park, and it’s taken us a long time to build up this money to give this gift to the city. We want to make sure that we’re satisfied with the location, with the size, and it meets our criteria.”
The site proposed by the Jaycees for the park, at Texas Avenue and North 18th Street, hit a nerve with the neighbors. The council last month directed city staff to evaluate several possible locations. City staff developed seven criteria based on recommendations by the American Kennel Club to evaluate a dozen possible locations.
The site proposed by the Jaycees only fell short of the criteria because it was not centrally located and was not away from residential areas. It was the only site that produced no other concerns about citing a dog park, except those expressed by neighbors -health, safety and diminished quality of life.
Julia Johnson of Lackawanna Avenue said the findings of the site analyses demonstrated the Jaycees did their homework in selecting a site for the dog park, and she supports the Texas Avenue site.
The site recommended by Mayor Bruce Hagen and adopted by the Council is about half the size of the site selected by the Jaycees, and while located away from residential property, it would require the state to agree to a lease for a Wisconsin Department of Transportation right of way.
“We don’t think it’s a good idea to have the dog park right up to the shelter,” said Sheila Keup, manager for the Humane Society of Douglas County. The organization is slated to operate the shelter when it opens.
“Our dogs need to go outside,” Keup said. “We have dogs coming in that are not vaccinated; some have parasites, fleas. You name it, they have it when they come in. It’s going to open up everyone else coming in to those diseases potentially.”
Keup said it takes time to get the shelter animals fully vaccinated with boosters, and the site would leave no room to create runs for the shelter; getting the animals outside is required by the Department of Agriculture.
Hagen assured there would be a separation between the park and shelter, but Keup pointed out the animals in the shelter are already stressed, and a dog park there could exacerbate the problem.
“The sticking point for Texas Avenue seems to be the residents, that it’s in a residential neighborhood,” Fennessey said. “But if you look at an aerial map of it, go two blocks from any one side of the dog park, I count 13 homes.
Numerous city blocks throughout the city contain that many homes on a single block, he said.
“I would ask that you still look at Texas Avenue. It’s the best spot for a dog park in the city,” Fennessey said.