Government

North Liberty considers potential dog park

Some residents have been advocating one for years

(file photo) Jake Villhauer and his wife, Rachel, walk their two dogs — Marshall and Maddox — on July 28, 2015. They and others have been advocating several years for a dog park in the city. The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to consider the initial step of a land purchase for a park. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
(file photo) Jake Villhauer and his wife, Rachel, walk their two dogs — Marshall and Maddox — on July 28, 2015. They and others have been advocating several years for a dog park in the city. The City Council is scheduled Tuesday to consider the initial step of a land purchase for a park. (Jim Slosiarek/The Gazette)
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NORTH LIBERTY — Life soon may get a little less ruff for four-legged friends in North Liberty.

The City Council is expected Tuesday to discuss reallocating money to buy land for a dog park. If ultimately approved, the park would be built on a 11.5 acres on the northeast side of the curve of North Liberty Road near where it meets Penn Street.

The council is scheduled to discuss it at a meeting that begins at 6:30 p.m. in its chambers at 1 Quail Creek Circle.

“This is an exciting possibility and it’s something that we know folks are excited about and we hope to get some direction moving forward,” said Nick Bergus, North Liberty’s communications director.

During the meeting, members will see if there is consensus to reallocate $225,000 from this fiscal year’s proposed trail lighting project to the land purchase. Initial staff estimates place the cost of the land purchase and dog park construction at about $1 million, according to documents.

Bergus said if the council moves ahead with the land buy, it’ll cost $200,000, which he believed to be below market value. The property owner, Pat Scanlon, also previously owned land where Liberty High School was built.

“We didn’t want to build a dog park in an established neighborhood, right? It’s one thing for folks to move close to a dog park. It’s another thing to surprise folks who might have a quiet neighborhood to then have a dog park sort of sprung on them.” Bergus said.

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When residents began contacting the city about their desire for a dog park, the goal was incorporated into North Liberty’s parks plan, and staff has been looking for an ideal piece of land since. Bergus said the city has set aside $10,000 each of the last three years for such a park.

If the council supports the idea, a purchase agreement could be considered as soon as June 26, according to a city memo.

The project’s plan would call for 7 acres of fenced-in space as well as benches and a shelter.

Helping lead the way for the dog park is Johnson County Dog PAC, a nonprofit that pledged $50,000 to the project. Members of the group also have plans to continue to fundraise for the project, according to a city memo.

“Three years ago, we first met about the possibility of having a dog park in North Liberty. Next week, it can take its next step towards becoming reality,” said Jake Villhauer, North Liberty resident and president of the PAC, in an earlier statement. “We’re excited to help make this happen. North Liberty residents deserve a treat and a scratch behind the ears, because they made their city an even better place to live.”

l Comments: (319) 339-3172; maddy.arnold@thegazette.com

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