Dog park in Yellow Springs could become reality

Yellow Springs could soon have a space for four-legged furry friends to run and play off leash.

The village is one step closer to creating a dog park. Village council will hear a presentation of the dog park proposal later this fall and vote on the use of a Gaunt Park site.

Brian Housh, Village Council President, said a dog park has been talked about for years in Yellow Springs.

“It’s finally gaining traction and they’ve found a good spot,” Housh said. “It has been an interest in all aspects of the community and it’s nice that it is finally moving forward.”

Beth Miller, president and CEO of nonprofit consulting firm Wagtown, was contacted to help organize efforts around the dog park. If approved, the park would open in September of 2021, Miller said.

Miller said the dog park group has budgeted approximately $42,000 that will be needed to begin the project and about $10,000 per year in operations to run it, bringing the first year total to $52,000.

Miller said a community advocate has donated $25,000 to the project. Things like shelters and trees are being contributed to the project by organizations in the area, she said.

The Yellow Springs Community Foundation has established a relationship with the team developing the Dog park proposal. That will enable a smooth flow of donations and administrative tasks.

“We’ve gotten the ‘okay’ from the village and public works said its in their master plan, so there is a high chance it will happen,” Miller said.

While Yellow Springs would allow use of the land, the village has said it would not fund the park, so taxpayers would not carry the cost of setting up or maintaining the dog park. The proposed dog park will be on village-owned land that is currently unused, Housh said. The park will be about one acre just past the water towers at Gaunt Park, he said.

“The land wasn’t being used, but it was perfect for a dog park,” Miller said.

Village council approved the project in July and will consider a final proposal later this fall. The dog park group has also held three socially-distanced community gatherings at the proposed space to tell the public about the concept.

The village is still looking for funding for the dog park, Housh said. The Yellow Springs Community Foundation has set up a collection on their website for the dog park. Miller said a nonprofit dog park association is now being formed. The Yellow Springs Community Foundation will also manage the dog park group’s funds.

Long-time Yellow Springs resident Richard Lapedes has been part of the latest push for a village dog park.

Lapedes said he and his Goldendoodle, Betty, were walking in Gaunt Park and they found the unused and out of sight part of the park that will potentially be used for the dog park.

Miller and Lapedes said they have been using the coronavirus slow-down to work on rules for both the dogs and the humans. Miller said the group plans to make the Yellow Springs dog park a S.M.A.R.T one, which will allow people to focus on different topics of education.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for safety, manners, awareness, responsibility and training. Miller said educational materials will be available both in-person and virtually to reduce the risk of incidents at the dog park. The safety training will feature tips for keeping dogs safe in outdoor, off-leash and unfamiliar places. Miller said it will also be important to stress manners “on both ends of the leash.”

“We are strongly interested in being sure that this is used wisely,” Lapedes said. “We don’t want it to be abused.”

Miller also put out a survey, which closed Sept. 30, to get community feedback about the dog park.

“The survey confirmed the direction we’re going,” Miller said. “We are definitely listening to the public input we’re getting.”

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