A proposed dog park in McPherson cleared its first hurdle during a city planning commission Tuesday.
The McPherson Planning Commission approved a special-use permit for the dog park, which will be located on land owned by the city southwest of Avenue A and Centennial Drive.
The area around the proposed dog park is currently agriculture land, but the city hopes to develop it into police, fire and utility training facilities.
So many people attended the planning commission meeting, many of which were wearing their bright yellow dog park T-shirts, the meeting had to be moved to a training room at the fire station.
Traci Parrish, Dog Park Association president, said the main concern raised at the meeting was the issue of liability, especially in the case of a dog fight or bite.
Parrish told the commission, because the city owns the land, the park would be covered under governmental immunity.
The non-profit Dog Park Association hopes to build the park entirely through donations. Several years ago, the city received a $25,000 anonymous donation toward the building of a dog park. City officials estimate construction will cost a total of $40,000 to $50,000.
The association already has raised about $4,000 toward its goal and has another fundraiser set for Dec. 8 at the 4-H Building.
The association will have to go before the city commission for approval next, but must wait for a 14-day protest period to pass before it can do so.
Thomas R. Stinemetze, city zoning administrator, said the special-use permit will be on the city commission’s Nov. 26 agenda.
If the city commission approves the special-use permit, the dog park association will have to come back to the planning commission with a formal site plan.
The association has developed a preliminary site plan for the park, but will refine its plan, which will need to address issue of drainage, lighting, parking landscaping and screening on the three-acre site.
Drainage will be an issue for the dog park, as well as the training facilities.
A drainage ditch runs through the center of the proposed dog park location and Dry Turkey Creek is located to the east of the city property.
Stinemetze said a drainage pond could be shared by the fire training facility and the dog park. The fire department will need a water source to test pumps, as well as to use for drainage when conducting fire exercises.
The dog park also may be able to share parking with one or more of the training facilities, Stinemetze said.
Stinemetze said the dog park will likely be the first of the four projects to move forward. He said the park could be in place as soon as next summer.
Page 2 of 2 - Stinemetze said area residents expressed more concern about the training facilities than the dog park.
The proposed police training facility would include a firing range, and nearby residents expressed concern about safety and noise from firearms discharge.
In regards to the fire training facility, members of the public expressed concerns about siren noise and smoke during fire exercises.
Concerns about the general aesthetics of the area also were noted.
“It was said people who have bought homes in the Deerfield Addition, expecting a beautiful country vista, will see their country vista disappear,” Stinemetze said, “but officials said there will not be that much above ground, and the training facilities will be a quarter to a half mile away from homes.”