County committee questions dog park plans
Buildings and grounds committee express concern over only access being through Campus Woods Trail
A proposed dog park in the city of Medford drew additional questions and concerns from members of the Taylor County buildings and grounds committee on Monday.
At their last meeting, committee members had agreed to work with the dog park group to provide access to the park through an easement off of the Campus Woods trail system.
Buildings and grounds supervisor Joe Svejda said the proposal he was given from the group was for the dog park committee to acquire a half acre of county property on the southwest portion of the Campus Woods property. He questioned if the county would be giving the group the land or would be leasing it to the group.
Svejda also raised concern with changes to access that have occurred since the group first came and talked to them. When committee members had verbally agreed to allowing access of the trail, it was the understanding that the primary access would be from a parking lot located on the west side of the railroad tracks by Nestle Pizza. Since then, that proposed parking area has been taken off the table and the only access would be through the Campus Woods Trail and the parking lot by the Taylor County Agricultural Service Center.
Taylor County leases much of the Ag Center to federal agencies and under terms of the new lease is required to finish and stripe the parking lot there. Svejda noted there are only 16 visitor parking spaces in that lot. Noting that it is a public parking lot, Svejda said he didn’t think it was their committee’s place to say if dog park users would be welcomed to use the lot or not.
Committee member Jim Gebauer raised concerns about relying on the Campus Trail as the only access to the dog park. “To me that is not the best walking trail I have seen,” he said. He went on to question the wisdom of locating the park behind the Campus Woods. “It is not a good spot for the dog park regardless,” Gebauer said.
Committee members were hesitant to give the dog park group the land requested, but were likewise concerned about a lease agreement where they could get it back in the future.
“If 10 years from now this thing is dismantled, what happens, do we leave a crusty old fence?” Svejda asked.
“I am not for that spot for a dog park,” Gebauer said. Committee member Rod Adams said he could agree with leasing but not selling. He said he would be more comfortable leasing the parcel requested to the city rather than to the private nonprofit group.
“The city could be responsible if the park goes to the dogs,” Adams said. After further discussion, committee members were in agreement that the request would not be approved at the county board level and in the end tabled the request for additional property.
In other business, committee members: _ Directed Svejda to bill a group that rented a county building for additional clean-up work done as the result of broken bottles and other damage earlier this summer. The rental contract from the time only required a $25 security deposit. That has since been increased to $100 per room, but it also noted that additional costs can be billed.
_ Approved allowing the Lions Club to sell additional food concessions at the Perkinstown Snowshoe race scheduled to be held in January at the Winter Sports area.
_ Approved moving ahead with the possible rebuild of the Education Center parking lot in conjunction with the replacement of the Ag Center parking lot. The lots are near each other and Svejda hoped to gain savings from having the equipment already on site. The work will be done by the highway department crew. Gebauer said he was doubtful they would pave the lot this year, noting that if the base needed work they would want to have it go through a freeze-thaw cycle before paving it to make sure it was firm.
_ Discussed the possible purchase of deceleration pads and blocks at the Winter Sports Area in place of purchasing bales of hay each season. The county purchases about 200 bales of hay each year to separate the lanes on the sledding hill and to stop tubers from sliding into the parking lot at the bottom of the hill. He said the work of getting the hay and of disposing of the waterlogged bales at the end of the season was a hassle. Svejda suggested the county could purchase the vinyl covered foam blocks which would then need to be stored. He estimated the cost of the blocks at about $14,000 suggesting they could pursue Powerline grant funding to cover the expense. Committee members questioned the storage of them and the potential for animal damage. They directed Svejda to check with tubing and ski hills in other places and see what they use.
_ Approved placing cameras in county parks to monitor littering and improper dumping in park dumpsters. “People are just pigs when it comes down to it,” Adams said after Svejda outlined the ongoing problems of people dumping personal garbage in the park dumpsters. Gebauer noted that having cameras there will make people think twice about dumping their garbage in the dumpsters saying it helped cut down unauthorized dumping at the Rib Lake recycling center dumpsters. “It just takes one person to make it bad for everyone,” said committee member Diane Albrecht.
_ Discussed the condition of the roof on the dairy barn at the fairgrounds. The existing metal roof on the building leaks in heavy rains with the water running down inside the walls. The fair asked the county to address the problem along with a number of other concerns with the potential to tap into federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds the county received. County clerk Andria Farrand reminded committee members that in addition to being used by the fair, the county also rents space in the building to residents for storage of boats and campers over the winter to keep them out of the weather.