City approves space for dog park

SWORN IN: Big Rapids Clerk Roberta Cline (right) swears in Andrea Nerbonne as the director of the Department of Public Safety on Monday during the Big Rapids City Commission meeting. New city Treasurer Jonathan Locke looks on. (Pioneer photos/Jonathan Eppley)

BIG RAPIDS — Big Rapids city commissioners are throwing a bone to dog owners looking for space to let their canine pets run free.

City officials unanimously voted on Monday to designate space at the north end of River Street Park for a community dog park. The acre-sized park will offer two areas for dogs to run off their leashes, including a roughly 20,000-square-foot area for large dogs and a 10,000-square-foot area for small dogs.

“This is going to be a destination for many, many residents of Big Rapids and will be a quality of life multiplier,” said Mark Brejcha, of the Friends of the Big Rapids Dog Park.

The Friends group plans to raise some of the funds for the project through the sale of personalized bricks, which will be laid at the park entrance. Customizable 3-by-8-inch bricks can be purchased for $50, and larger 8-by-8-inch bricks for $75. The group also is soliciting tiered corporate and private sponsorships for the park.

Although the city will manage the money for the group, the expected $24,000 project will not use any city funds. Organizers hope to have enough money raised to start installing the five-foot-tall chain-link fence this summer.

In 2009, commissioners voted to approve that same space for a skateboard park. City attorney Eric Williams advised the current commission that the previous resolution would not need to be rescinded to make way for a dog park.

“I don’t believe that the resolution absolutely has to be rescinded and that the commission can go ahead and approve this location for this use,” Williams said. “The approval for the skateboard park would still stand out there to locate it somewhere within River Street Park, but it doesn’t compel the commission order the construction of it. You can revisit the location of that later. … Maybe there’s some way to put them both down there at the park.”

The group advocating for a skate park has been made aware of the interest from the dog park group and will continue efforts to raise funds for a skate park.

“They have known about the meetings (pertaining to the dog park) and had the opportunity to come and talk about their feelings and thoughts, but that hasn’t happened,” said Mark Gifford, director of the Department of Public Works.

Commissioners also unanimously adopted a five-year parks and recreation master plan that outlines goals for the city’s parks, including developing trails at Clay Cliffs Nature Area, re-surfacing the tennis courts at Hemlock Park, adding more parking at Northend Riverside and Mitchell Creek parks and more.

NEW TREASURER: Jonathan Locke was sworn in as the new Big Rapids city treasurer on Monday.

City officials based the document’s outline on a survey mailed to residents and a community forum held last spring. Residents were asked which parks they use most frequently, what they enjoy most about those parks, how they rate the city’s parks and facilities, as well as what additional amenities they would like to see added to the parks system.

Having a parks and recreation master plan in place allows the city to apply for Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Environment funding for recreation projects.

“There is a detailed demographic of the City of Big Rapids and analysis of each and every park in the master plan, as well as future development ideas for the parks,” said City Manager Steve Sobers. “It’s been a multi-year effort to get this done and it is a prelude for us to be able to get DNR grants for some of those activities listed for our parks.”

In other news, more than a dozen police officers and firefighters, as well as family and friends gathered as Andrea Nerbonne was sworn in as the director of the Department of Public Safety.

Jonathan Locke also was sworn in as the new city treasurer. He was joined by his wife, Jennifer.

avatar

Posted by Jonathan Eppley

Jonathan Eppley is news editor for the Pioneer. He designs and copy edits the Pioneer daily, and manages staff in the evening. Eppley joined the Pioneer staff in 2010. He can be reached at (231) 592-8357 or at jeppley@pioneergroup.com.

One comment on “City approves space for dog park

  1. avatardawnstartodd

    I live on the northside of Holland (Park Township). We happen to have a dog park & skate park sharing an area park right down the road from my house. I was skeptical at first, but both are in use all the time. They are able to share a parking lot & some of the lighting. Dog owners are very good about keeping their animals leashed until inside their designated fence area and are very responsible about doing clean-ups after their dogs. The skateboard park attracts a much larger age group than anticipated. I think both groups were so happy get an area they could call their own. They have work bees once or twice a year for users to help keep “their” park looking good. I have seen it work well with these two groups sharing an area. I think if done right it could work in BR, too.

Leave a Reply