LIBERTY — About 15 residents whose houses are near or border Bennett Park are opposed to a proposed 1.5-acre dog park addition in the park, located at 1100 N. Clayview Drive.
The parks board, with funds raised by the Liberty Parks and Recreation Foundation, announced the move to put a dog park in Bennett this fall by placing flyers on doors and vehicle windshields. The foundation seeks projects and funds to improve the park system above and beyond what taxpayer dollars cover.
Perry Nichols, who lives in the 1400 block of Nancy Lane, said his backyard borders the northeast edge of Bennett Park and he doesn't want a dog park for several reasons, including the possibility for increased litter.
“First thing that comes to mind is the noise pollution, which will be prevalent all hours of the day. No. 2, no pun intended, the dog logs, which will be a part of the landscape. Even though bags are provided, they are not always used. Third, there is an underground stream which empties into the middle of the hill where the proposed dog park will reside. This area is always muddy, and the mowers are frequently getting stuck," he said. "As a dog owner, I would not take my dog to a dog park where I would have to bath my dog every time I visited."
Nichols said he also worries about stray or unattended dogs.
“This is a potential danger to small children and adults in the neighborhoods around the dog park. Loitering and vandalism is a potential issue with public places,” he said. “The spread of disease is also a risk, as all owners are not diligent about vaccinating their pets. Another matter to consider is the behavior of some dogs and owners, which is not always appropriate.”
Resident Ed Devite said he is worried about the extra traffic the park would have while Jeanne McNabney said wildlife that frequents the park, including deer and white squirrels, may leave the park due to the scent of dogs.
Jim Moores called Bennett Park the park system's “crown jewel.”
“The original wooded area brings in owls, turkeys, deer,” he said. “Putting a dog park in is not consistent with being a crown jewel. Fix the streets in the park. They are in bad shape. I also think the details have not been vetted such as a traffic impact, environmental and noise.”
Nichols said he polled neighbors about whether they wanted a dog park and 54 of 61 said they did not. Three were undecided and four were in favor of the park addition, he said.
“It is crystal clear that the LPR have not asked the people in the area who will be the most impacted if they want a dog park in Bennett Park,” he said. “It has come to my attention that the LPR believe that Bennett Park is underutilized. There are a number of ways to make Bennett Park friendlier to use. One thing that comes to mind is to make the walking trail asphalt versus bark chips. This would ensure more people, especially older folks who need more sure footing, would use the walking trail.”
Parks Board President Karen Ridder said she personally walked the neighborhood prior to the fall meeting handing out flyers, but did not receive much response from neighbors. The dog park, she added, would help make the park safer as it would mean more people using the park.
No decision on the park addition has been made. Liberty City Council, which will provide the final say on the matter, is expected to discuss the dog park Jan. 27.