Lori and Sasha

Lori Lange and her dog, Sasha, are hoping to meet other dogs and dog owners if Walworth village officials approve plans for a new dog park. (Contributed photo/Regional News)

WALWORTH — A village resident is proposing to create a public dog park built with volunteer labor and paid for with donations.

Since December, dog owner Lori Lange has taken her propoosal to the village board, the village plan commission and the village board’s public works committee.

Village officials have been cautiously supportive of her idea to establish a dog park on village property.

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

“I like the fact that the dogs and people will be able to get to know their neighbors,” she said.

Lange is proposing that the park, which would be about one acre, be on the village’s far north side on 17.5 acres called the Badger Conservancy, which is on Badger Lane.

Village officials said they like the idea of adding a dog park, but they said they need more information.

“I’m waiting to hear back more from her,” said Trustee Louise Czaja, who chairs the Walworth Village Board’s public works committee.

Czaja pointed out that a dog park was listed third among facilities that the public desires, behind additional playground equipment and a splash pad, in a survey done as part of the village’s five-year Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, approved in December.

“We go by what the public said,” said Czaja. “The fundraising situation is something that she’s taken on — we will be watching.”

Village President Tom Connelly pointed out that the park is not being proposed by the village, but it is a proposal from a citizen who is rallying public support among others in the community.

“They don’t want to put any burden on the village tax base, which is great,” Connelly said. “Good for them.”

Connelly is not a pet owner, but he said the interest shown for the dog park indicates that there is a large number of dog owners locally.

As proposed by Lange, the park would be on the far south end of the conservancy at the end of Fifth Street, across the railroad tracks and to the west of a bike path.

The park would be cordoned off with a six-foot-tall chain link fence. An entrance area would allow owners to bring their dogs in without allowing other dogs to escape the enclosure.

Lange said a preliminary quote indicated that the fencing would cost $7,800. But she said that estimate might be too high.

Lange said she is seeking donations to pay for the fencing.

Only licensed dogs would be allowed in the park, much like the requirement at a Lake Geneva dog park. Lange also suggested that the village might collect a fee from visitors from outside the county, with any revenue applied to maintaining the park.

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

“I’d like to create something like Lake Geneva has, and I’d like to keep it free,” she said.

Lange said she likes the Lake Geneva dog park, but it’s too far away.

The survey and construction work will have to wait until spring, because the property is now covered in a heavy blanket of snow and ice.

Lange said she will consider creating a Go Fund Me page, but only if construction of the park is first approved by the village board.

Lange said she is also contacting local community organizations for volunteers to help, including the Boy Scouts.

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.