West Park Designated for New Dog Park

A section of West Park, located off of Chapin across from the New Hope Baptist Church, has been recommended as the location for a new fenced-in dogpark. The recommendation from the Ann Arbor park advisory commission, made at its Dec. 18, 2012 meeting, was unanimous, and will be forwarded to city council for consideration.

The vote followed public commentary from more than a half dozen members of the New Hope Baptist Church, which would be located directly across from the dogpark. Members were opposed to the location, citing concerns over safety, noise and other issues. One speaker suggested the possibility of swapping the location with the existing Project Grow gardens, located in West Park but further away from the road.

The proposed dogpark site is roughly a quarter-acre in the park’s northeast corner, where the city recently bought and demolished a house near the entrance off of Chapin Street. [.pdf of aerial view showing proposed location] PAC had been most recently briefed on the project at its Oct. 16 meeting. However, the effort to develop a new dogpark has been in the works for more than a year, led by commissioner John Lawter. The city currently has two legal off-leash dog parks in Ann Arbor, at Olson Park and Swift Run – on the far north and south sides of the city, but nothing that is centrally located.

City parks staff reported that feedback from a public meeting held on Nov. 7 was overwhelmingly positive. But at a subsequent meeting with members of New Hope Baptist Church, none of the church members who attended were supportive of a dogpark at that location.

In response to New Hope concerns, PAC amended its original resolution to specify that parks staff and PAC would meet with church members to discuss a possibly temporary dogpark at that location, and to review the status of the dogpark a year after it’s in place, with particular attention to noise levels.

This brief was filed from the second-floor council chambers at city hall, 301 E. Huron, where PAC holds its meetings. A more detailed report will follow: [link]