The group will present a plan for a dog park to Boardman Park officials Jan. 25.
By RICK ROUAN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
BOARDMAN — The vision of a dog park in Boardman Park could be a reality if the park board throws a bone later this month to the group pushing for the project.
The group will meet with park officials at 4:30 p.m. Jan. 25 to present its idea about a potential dog park, said Jason Loree, one of six co-chairpersons for the organization, which is also seeking nonprofit status.
“After we meet with the park and we get some insight on whether they’re OK with working toward this dog-park goal, we’ll be putting together designs for the park and starting to consider fundraising,” he said.
Loree, the township’s administrator, emphasized that a dog park would not be built or maintained using taxpayer dollars and that he is helping work on the project in his spare time.
In September, the group met for the first time to discuss ideas for a park in Boardman. Since then, it has met once a month and has decided to become a nonprofit.
The basic idea, Loree said, is to at least fence in part of Boardman Park and to have separate areas for small and large dogs.
“We’re hoping we can go above the bare minimum and include some of the things that make a nice dog park for the area,” Loree said.
Eventually the group would like to also have benches made from recycled material and an area of sand and water for the dogs to dig and swim, he said.
Fencing alone will cost between $7,000 and $10,000, Loree said, and the group plans to begin fundraising in March or April if it gains the park board’s approval.
If it builds the dog park, the group would pay Boardman Park for upkeep through fundraising and donations, Loree said.
A usage fee also could help generate revenue to sustain the dog park, he said.
Park officials have said that about 1.5 acres near the park’s Southern Boulevard entrance could be used, pending approval from Ohio Edison, which owns wires that run over the property.
Building the park would give area dog owners a place to socialize and train dogs off of their leashes, Loree said.
One of the group’s members, a pet sitter, wrote in an e-mail that “well socialized, trained dogs are better-behaved dogs.”
“Puppies and high-energy breeds are much less likely to be destructive when they’re tired and happy,” said Cassandra Powell, owner and operator of Critter Sitters Plus and co-chairperson of the group.
Loree said that dog parks have become progressively more popular in the area and that one in Boardman would be well-received.
“They’re popping up left and right,” he said. “It’s almost a social event for the people as well as the dogs.”
Loree and his wife, Abbey, started the group, but it has grown to include a full hierarchy of co-chairpersons, secretaries and members.
“Really, I’m just a big dog lover at heart,” said Loree, who owns a yellow Labrador and a boxer.
For Arlia Slaina, a member of the group, pets are “family members” and the area has enough animal lovers to support a dog park.
Other members of the group have gone to dog parks outside of Boardman just to exercise their animals.
“We love the dog park at Mosquito Lake and are very excited about having one nearby,” said Jenn Fellows, the group’s secretary, in an e-mail.