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Dog park delayed and might relocate

Dog park delayed and might relocate

East Troy dog park

Members of the East Troy High School Key Club line up in front of the East Troy dog park that they worked to open this summer, about six months after the park was first proposed.

WALWORTH — Village officials are working out the details of creating a dog park, possibly including a new location.

Members of the Walworth Village Board Plan Commission recently suggested moving the proposed site from Badger Avenue on the north side of the village to an acre of village-owned land just east of Toynton Park.

Bottom line: The park will not be ready this year.

Lori Lange, a resident who first proposed the park, said she has slowed down looking for donations.

Some commitments for donations were made, but no money has been collected, she said.

“For transparency, I wanted a Go Fund Me account to be set up at the village, so the money never passed through my hands directly,” Lange said

She said the site near Toynton makes sense for a dog park, because it is larger and provides water.

Parking available near Toynton and the proposed dog park site also made sense, she said.

Village President Tom Connelly said the village plan commission and public works committee are still studying the proposed park.

“We’re still in the discussion phase,” Connelly said.

Connelly said he has been collecting information about dog parks, which he chaired with the village plan commission.

“We’re still in the R&D phase,” he said. “We’re still trying to get our arms around the concept.”

Moving the proposed site to Toynton was “more of a logistics thing,” Connelly said. The site has more parking than the first proposed site, he said.

The site, which is owned by the village, but not officially a part of Toynton Park is about an acre.

Connelly said the park will be a standing item on plan commission agendas “until we have enough information to reach a decision,” he said.

Lange said the village will probably have to find outside grants to help finance the park.

That, too, will take time, she said.

Lange first proposed the park to the village in February 2018. She singled out an acre on the village’s far north side in the Badger Conservancy, which is on Badger Lane.

A dog park was listed as the third-most desired facility by village residents in a survey done as part of the village’s five-year Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.

Lange said she planned to seek donations to pay for creating the park.

Only licensed dogs would be allowed in the park, and Lange suggested that the village collect a fee from visitors from outside the county. That revenue would go toward maintaining the park.

Lange said she would like to see the park open year-round.

Lange, a special education teacher in Beloit, owns two dogs. One of them, Sasha, likes to roam. The park would provide roaming space for dogs and meeting space for their owners, she said.

Meanwhile, another community group proposed and built a dog park in about six months.

East Troy’s dog park opened in June.

What it took was support from the village and a group of teens who were committed to creating the park, organizer Tricia Harris said.

Harris was the lead on creating the dog park. She is the East Troy High School nurse’s assistant and also adviser to the school’s Key Club.

The school’s 30-member Key Club is affiliated with the Kiwanis, Harris said. The Kiwanis is an international civic organization that supports services for children and communities.

“Our group every year does some type of charity work,” Harris said.

In January, the club members decided to create a dog park.

The students approached the village board with their proposal, and Harris and her group found themselves going to village board and plan commission meetings to explain the proposal.

The East Troy dog park is on five acres just north of the East Troy Village Hall. The village donated the land and also donated garbage cans, Harris said.

The site has picnic tables, and the Key Club is now raising funds to buy benches, Harris said.

Being affiliated with the Kiwanis International helped the group land a grant that helped pay for the $20,000 cost of the dog park. Most of the cost, $15,000, was in the fencing that surrounds the park.

Donations from area businesses also helped defray costs, she said.

Lake Geneva opened another dog park about four years ago. It was a city project, paid for with city funds.

Lake Geneva City Administrator David Nord said the park is maintained by the city’s public works department. Maintaining the park costs about $10,000 a year, he said.

Lange said she likes the Lake Geneva White River Dog Park, but she feels it is too far away to visit regularly.

Meanwhile, Lange said she will continue to lobby and seek financial commitments for the dog park in Walworth.

“I’m still a thorn,” she said. “I nudge the village now and then.”

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Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.

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