Group proposes dog park near Campus Woods
The Medford Dog Park Corp. gave a presentation on a proposed dog park in Medford during the Committee-of-the-Whole meeting Tuesday night.
The group has proposed to construct the dog park on nine acres of meadow space to the west of the Campus Woods. The property is owned by Néstle and Taylor County. Naomi Hartl, a board member from the group, told the committee Néstle has already made a verbal commitment to donating its share of the property for the project. Hartl said she initially thought the city owned the rest of the property in question, but recently learned it was owned by the county and that the group would be approaching the county board at its next meeting to ask permission to use the property.
The park would have two entrances. The west entrance would be from the old Néstle parking lot along a walking path that would cross the railroad track to a gate. The east entrance would be a short connecting path from the existing trail in the Campus Woods to the gate. The park will be surrounded by a fence and would include a fenced area for small dogs, picnic tables and benches, dog waste and trash station and signage. The corporation would be responsible for upkeep and maintenance, as well as the long-term development of the dog park.
Cost for the fencing, posts, tree and stump removal and pathway work is estimated at $22,555. Hartl said the group has already begun fundraising. She said letters have been sent to Medford banks asking for donations toward the purchase and installation of perimeter and interior fencing and gates and that sponsorship letters will be sent to local businesses. Hartl said the group plans to have collection jars at smaller businesses and hold public fundraisers in the future. The group hopes to secure funding for the project by the fall of this year with construction on the park to begin in the spring of 2022.
Hartl said what the group was asking from city was donated labor for creating the walking paths to the entrances, installing the posts and fencing and placing of culvert by the railroad track crossing; promoting the dog park through social media, city and county websites and by word of mouth; and supporting the group’s fundraisers by promoting them through media outlets.
Following the presentation, alderman Laura Holmes asked if the Campus Trail would just be a gateway to the park. Hartl said none of the Campus Trail or Woods would be fenced in or included in the dog park. She said the only impact on the woods would be the removal of several trees to construct the walking path to the entrance gate.
Alderman Greg Knight noted that railroads were very particular about crossing over their tracks and asked if the group thought they would receive permission to cross the tracks for the west entrance. Hartl said the east entrance off the Campus Trail was going to be the main entrance to the park and that the west entrance was a back-up plan. She said they would like to have the two entrances, but if they are unable to obtain permission from the railroad to cross the tracks, the group will still move forward with the park if the county is onboard with the project.
Alderman Mike Bub congratulated the group for their efforts in taking the initiative for the project and asked if the group planned to mow the area inside the fence or leave it in a more wild natural state. Hartl said they didn’t want to change the landscape too much. She said she noticed the meadow is “sort of selfmatting” and they would just trample down the grass for the walking path at first. Hartl said they may mow later to reform the paths, but that they would not be mowing it on a weekly basis. Bub, who is also a county board supervisor, suggested the group contact the county to ask for power line money, noting this was just the type of project the power line money was designated for.
A large number of people from the community attended the meeting to show their support for the project. Someone in the audience asked if there was going to be a watering station included in the design. Hartl said the initial build would not include one because of the cost, but in the five-year plan she would “love to add a water station.” She noted most dog parks in this area of the state don’t have this feature and it would be a luxury item for a dog park to have, adding in the fiveyear plan it would be “awesome.”
Another person asked if it was possible to build an access road from CTH O to the property rather than crossing the railroad tracks. Hartl said they had discussed that but the property between the dog park and CTH O becomes swampy and it would be very difficult and expensive to put in an access road.
Knight asked if the group thought the county would sell them the property or lease it to them. Hartl said she wasn’t sure since she has never done this before and would follow their guidance on what would work best for the county.
The common council was very supportive of the project and thought the dog park would be a good addition to the city. Mayor Mike Wellner said when the group was ready to move forward on the project, they should come back to the city for formal action on their plan.
Also during the meeting, the committee approved the purchase agreement with Commonwealth Development Corporation of America for 4.4 acres of city-owned land on Progressive Avenue in the industrial park for $50,000 for a 40-unit multi-family affordable housing development.
The committee approved a request to use the city-owned parking lot on Whelen Avenue for the farmer’s market on Tuesdays from May 11 to October 19 from 1-5 p.m.
The committee approved a request from police chief Chad Liske to hire a part-time officer to help alleviate the need for overtime by full-time officers and/or denial of vacation or personal holiday request.
Liske said the part-time officer would not be part of the police union bargaining unit and would not receive any benefi ts full-time officers receive. He said under the current bargaining agreement, any overtime or extra duties would be offered to full-time officers before the parttime officer. The part-time officer would be paid 90 percent of the wage a full-time officer receives and would work no more than 1,000 hours in a calendar year.
Knight asked if hiring a part-time offi cer would result in an increase in the budget. Liske said the department would be responsible for the annual handgun qualification and bi-annual emergency vehicle operations course certification, which would be a minimal expense. The part-time officer would be responsible for the remaining hours needed to maintain yearly officer certification. Liske added it could potentially save money since the department could be paying the parttime officer a 90 percent wage as opposed to time and a half for a full-time officer.
The committee approved the purchase of a lawn mower from Klingbeil at a cost of $3,988 with a trade-in allowance of $5,400 for the current lawnmower. The city had also received a quote from Fourmens of $5,999 with a $4,000 trade-in allowance.
The committee approved increasing the lifeguard wages by $1 over what had been approved at its March 2 meeting. The new rate for the head lifeguard is $13.50 (base) per hour or $13.88 (returning) per hour. The assistant lifeguard will receive $12.50 (base) or $12.85 (returning) per hour. Lifeguards will receive $12 (base) or $12.33 (returning) per hour. The committee felt the increase was necessary after becoming aware that some of the hired lifeguards may be leaving for employment elsewhere at a higher rate of pay.