Government

North Liberty OKs off-leash dog park

Purchase of 11.5 acres likely in front of council soon

Members of the Johnson County Dog PAC hold up a ceremonial check Tuesday to represent the $50,000 it is giving to help pay for North Liberty’s first dog park. The City Council on Tuesday reallocated $225,000 toward the purchase of 11.5 acres for the park. (Madison Arnold/The Gazette)
Members of the Johnson County Dog PAC hold up a ceremonial check Tuesday to represent the $50,000 it is giving to help pay for North Liberty’s first dog park. The City Council on Tuesday reallocated $225,000 toward the purchase of 11.5 acres for the park. (Madison Arnold/The Gazette)
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NORTH LIBERTY — Man’s best friends are likely wagging their tails about a North Liberty City Council decision.

The council voted 4-0 Tuesday to buy land for the city’s first off-leash dog park. Council member Sarah Madsen was not at the meeting.

The purchase agreement for the 11.5 acres on North Liberty Road could come to the council as soon as June 26, according to a city memo.

“I think the community’s been clamoring for this for at the least nine years that I’ve lived here,” council member Jennifer Goings said. “I think it’s an opportunity we should not be passing up at this point.”

Some $225,000 will be reallocated from money set aside for trail lighting to buy the lot to the northeast of the North Liberty Road curve near Penn Street.

The landowner, Pat Scanlon, is expected to sell the property at $200,000, which Nick Bergus, the city’s communication’s director, previously said is likely below market value.

The park is expected to include seven acres of fenced-in space for dogs, as well as benches and a shelter.

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Jake Villhauer, president of the Johnson County Dog PAC, said he first came to the city about building a dog park three years ago.

“It’s really exciting that it’s gotten to this point, so thank you from a citizen of North Liberty,” Villhauer said.

A handful of PAC members, some wearing neon green “Bark for a Park in North Liberty” shirts, applauded after the council vote.

The PAC is donating $50,000 to help with construction and has pledged to help raise more funds.

An early estimate of the cost was $1 million, although City Administrator Ryan Heiar told the council the estimates for the park’s driveway and parking lot costs may be a little high.

“I think everybody realizes that this thing is going to have to be done incrementally, with the price tag that’s assigned,” Mayor Terry Donahue said, adding that with the city and PAC working together, the project is doable.

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

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