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Doggie dreams can come true

NL Council action makes dog park a 2020 reality

NORTH LIBERTY– A dog park for North Liberty took a Labrador’s leap closer to reality as the city council passed two resolutions related to the park Tuesday, Aug. 13, during its regular meeting.
The park has long been a dream for many in the community with efforts to acquire land and develop such a facility dating back as far as 2009, when Lydia Fine started a Facebook page and online petition to gauge interest in North Liberty. After two years, only 89 signatures were on the petition but her friend Sarah Woods joined the cause and together the pair of doggie moms launched a more vigorous campaign. After only four weeks, 89 signatures jumped to over 400. The Johnson County Dog PAC (Park Action Committee) was consulted after its successful efforts to establish the Thornberry Dog Park, on Foster Road in Iowa City. The pair looked for potential sites, met with the city’s Parks and Recreation Commission, and had the lofty goal of having a park established and turned over to the city, for ownership and maintenance, within a couple of years.
“Dog parks can lead to a greater sense of community as residents become more familiar with each other crime decreases as neighbors are more likely to watch out for each other. Meeting at a dog park was but one way for people and their dogs to socialize,” Fine said in a 2012 interview.
Unfortunately, early optimism turned to frustration.
“We hit a lot of brick walls,” she said in a 2015 interview.
In addition, Woods moved out of the area and hopes for a dog park again reverted back to a dog’s dream.
However in 2015, a group led by Sara Langenberg and Jake Villhauer, North Liberty Residents for a Dog Park, picked up where Fine and Woods left off and it’s been a fixture at many community events raising awareness of, and funds for, a park.
In June 2018, the city council approved reallocating $225,000 from trail lighting projects to purchasing land for a dog park. The city purchased 11.5 acres of land, for $204,686 from Pat Scanlon, at 980 North Liberty Rd., on the curve of North Liberty Road, just east of the transition from Penn Street to North Liberty Road. The Johnson County Dog PAC donated $50,000 to the project and it was noted the city would have $30,000 set aside in Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 from the hotel/motel tax.
At the Aug. 13 meeting, the council approved resolution 2019-83 authorizing the vacation of city property from right-of-way to park ground, and approved resolutions 2019-84 and 2019-85 regarding plans, specifications, and costs for the park.
Grading work and tree removal was completed earlier this year at the site with installing a parking lot, trails and fencing listed as the next steps. This phase of the project was divided into two pieces: concrete work and fencing. Bids for the work are due later this month with contracts anticipated to be awarded on Tuesday, Aug. 27. Once the paving and fencing is completed, final grading and seeding will take place with opening set for the summer of 2020.
The city announced it was soliciting suggestions for a park name on Friday, Aug. 16. A committee of residents and staff will select a few names for the Parks and Recreation Commission to consider for recommendation at its Thursday, Sept. 5, meeting. The city council is expected to consider the commission’s recommendation at its Tuesday, Sept. 10, regular meeting.
The city laid out the following criteria:
Community Pride: The park should bear a name that somewhat showcases the community, as well as be a point of pride for the city’s residents, businesses and other stakeholders.
Timeless: The park should bear a name that won’t feel dated and tired in the future and isn’t subject to trends or fads.
Native: The park should bear a name that feels of this place.
Originality: The park should bear a name that will stand out, and not be lost in the sea of park names.
Ease of Use: The park should bear a name easy to pronounce, read, say and remember.
Suggestions may be submitted online through Tuesday, Aug. 27, on the city’s website at https://northlibertyiowa.org/2019/08/16/name-that-dog-park/# .