Grosse Pointe News

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Woods mulls dog park

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — City council took its first step at its meeting Monday, Sept. 12, toward possibly building a dog park on the grounds of the Robert Novitke Municipal Center.
Council agreed to send the matter to the Citizens Recreation Commission for further study.
If built, the enclosed park would be on Mack south of the entrance to the public safety department. Resident Steve Lorenz has appeared at several council meetings, speaking in favor of the project so people living near city hall would not have to drive to Lake Front Park to use the dog park there.
“I think this would be very appealing to young home buyers,” he said. “And longtime residents like myself would get to enjoy it and see an enhanced home value when we end up selling.”
Lorenz sought bids and pricing information based on three different entry systems.
“I started off thinking 100 by 200 feet, but thought that might be too large, so I had it priced for 40 by 80 feet,” he said. “People would be given access when they get their dog license each year. That way it limits the city’s liability because you know each dog is on their owner’s insurance and they have their shots.”
The least costly entry system would be a mechanical lock and residents would be given a key. Cost for that is estimated at $5,400.
“I would suggest that it be rekeyed each year,” Lorenz said.
The second option, estimated to cost $16,800, would use a fob. Option three, at $27,253, would use a barcode reader.
“That would use the same software already in place for entering Lake Front Park,” Lorenz said. “You’ve already got everyone’s names and data saved.”
Lisa Fuller of the Grosse Pointe Woods Foundation told council the group would be glad to get involved in fundraising for the project.
“We were kind of dormant during COVID, but we have strong roots and new energy,” she said. “We’re looking for that wish list from you because there’s only so much tax money to go around.”
Lorenz said he would pay any cost not covered by fundraising, making installation “revenue neutral.”
Fuller did raise a concern about the suggested size of the park.
“It’s smaller than most people’s backyards,” she said. “The entire plot is a third of an acre, or 15,000 square feet. This would be a tenth of an acre. The Grosse Pointe Farms dog park is seven-tenths of an acre.”
Fuller added that the smaller project might make it difficult to get people to donate.
City Administrator Frank Schulte noted that too large of an area might impact training firefighters do nearby.
Councilman Michael Koester suggested that if the park was bigger, it could simply be closed on the days when firefighters are training.
Councilwoman Vicki Granger said she would like to see the park expanded east to take in some trees.
“I know my dogs love watching squirrels,” she said. “They’re just entranced by them.”
Just as the discussion was ending, Councilman Todd McConaghy spoke up. He has not shown support for the idea at past meetings.
“I’ve been sitting here listening to you talk about this ad nauseum for months,” he told Lorenz. “If you could guarantee that it would be revenue neutral permanently, I’d be OK with it. That’s what you told us.”
Lorenz insisted that he only said the installation would be revenue neutral, stating the grass would have to be cut and bulbs replaced on a nearby lamp post.
“It can’t be guaranteed,” McConaghy said. “That’s the point I’m making, perhaps sarcastically.”
In an email after the meeting to all of the council members, which Lorenz shared with the Grosse Pointe News, he wrote he was “appalled by the total lack of decorum displayed by Mr. McConaghy” and he expects “a public apology” at the next meeting.
In a separate email to the GP News, Lorenz said he thought McConaghy should resign.
“The Grosse Pointe Woods City Council is devoted to thoroughly vetting all proposals for the expenditure of city funds,” McConaghy said in a prepared statement. “Currently, we are reviewing a proposal for a dog park tentatively planned for the front lawn at City Hall. The dog park, and the expenditure of any city funds related to the dog park, will be reviewed by the Recreation Commission and the Finance Committee before final recommendations are made to City Council.”