Drs. Foster and Smith seeking naming rights for company’s support
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Supporters of creating a dog park in the Rhinelander area have received committee approval of where they would like to locate one in the city.
The Parks, Building and Grounds Committee voted at its meeting Monday to recommend to the full City Council that the dog park be placed on the south end of Pioneer Park where a walking area for dogs currently exists.
Tina Werres, who has been involved for around 10 years in the effort to build a dog park, appeared before the committee to present the plans for creating the park, which would involve putting up 5-foot black chain link fencing with two areas that separate the large and small dogs.
“We could be up and running this summer with this location, because nothing has to be done,” she said. “The land doesn’t have to be prepared. The trees don’t have to be cut. We’re not talking about cutting or changing a thing, other than putting a fence up.”
Werres said the dog park, which has received support from donors, wouldn’t result in any additional cost to the city.
“It won’t add cost to the city in any way, because you already mow it, you already plow there,” she said. “If a tree needed to be cut for storm damage you already have that responsibility anyway.”
Werres also pointed out that a dirt area next to the drive-in entrance to Pioneer Park on the south end would be used for parking next to the dog park fencing and could be paved in the future, while behind the fencing to the south there would still be access to have a bike trail and a trail for access to the river.
Committee members also heard from Craig Catlin, a merchandise manager with Drs. Foster and Smith, a major supporter of the dog park project.
“We would love nothing more than to have this dog park in our back yard near the airport property, but our facilities manager did an evaluation of that property (and concluded) the lay of the land as it currently exists would not be feasible right now,” said Catlin, who also noted another option considered to locate the dog park across the street from the company’s retail store where soccer is being played would not work out to build the park in the near future.
Catlin said the best option to be able to have a dog park in place this summer is to locate it at Pioneer Park, which he called the “path of least resistance” to establish a dog park.
“With the monies that Tina’s collected, the monies that Drs. Foster and Smith is willing also donate to this park – the naming rights, Drs. Foster and Smith Dog Park possibly above the entrance, something to that effect – we think we can make this come to fruition,” he said.
As long as the dog park and Drs. Foster and Smith exist in Rhinelander, Catlin said the company would continue to support the park on an ongoing process.
Pioneer Park had also been the site where a proposal to build a second softball field, at no additional cost to the city, adjacent to the existing field was rejected last month by the full City Council. Other users of the park associated with the Oneida County Fair and Hodag Farmers’ Market had raised concerns about how a second field would have affected them.
Werres said the space for the dog park would be open for both the fair and farmers’ market.
Parks Committee chairperson Sherrie Belliveau, who had voted against the construction of the second softball field, noted she didn’t oppose having the dog park locate at Pioneer Park.
“I think that we’ve been working a long time (on locating a dog park in the Rhinelander area), and for us to shut it down with the help that (Drs.) Foster and Smith is offering, we’d be shooting ourselves in the foot,” Belliveau said.
Committee member Alex Young also voiced his support for locating the dog park at Pioneer Park, calling it a “pretty reasonable location.”
The dog park proposal was backed unanimously on a voice vote by the committee, which also agreed to contact neighbors living across the street from Pioneer Park to notify them of the proposal prior to the full City Council considering it at its Feb. 13 meeting.
Though the plans drawn out for the dog park call for fencing to border Oneida Street, city parks director Jeremy Biolo said the fencing would have to be set back so that it wouldn’t be in the same location were fiber optics run along the street.