Wet weather delays dog park project

ESCANABA — Rainy spring weather has not cooperated with volunteers wanting to install a dog park in Escanaba. In April, the Escanaba Dog Park installation was pushed into May because the frost line was still too high. Now, at the beginning of June, the ground is saturated from the amount of rain the area received in May.

Meteorologist Jordan Wendt from the National Weather Service in Negaunee said May was a wet month.

“This past May was the second wettest May on record, since the early 1960s, 1962,” Wendt said. “In 1973, 7.91 inches of rain was recorded as the wettest and 7.86 inches of rain fell in May 2019.”

According to Delta Fence and Construction’s Vice President Ron Chouinard, two weeks ago the area where the dog park was to be installed near the Delta County Airport was underwater.

“We are hoping for installation in a couple of weeks,” said Escanaba Recreation Director Kim Peterson. “(We’re) waiting for the ground to dry up.”

All other items are in place for installation of the Escanaba Dog Park.

Construction of the dog park was planned for May after a permit, submitted by the manager of Delta County Airport, was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration and a 30-year lease between the City of Escanaba and Delta County Airport was signed earlier this year. The lease states the recreation department will pay the Delta County Airport $1 each year for 30 years to use the land for a dog park. The dog park will span 2.75 acres.

“The location is straight off the highway going into the airport. Before you turn, there is a piece of land that runs along the road and near the hangar buildings,” Peterson said.

Before the current location was chosen, two other areas were looked at. The first location was on the Sand Point Peninsula by the Escanaba Water Treatment Plant and the second location was south of the Catherine Bonifas Civic Center. Both locations were turned down due to noise concerns.

The Central Upper Peninsula Planning and Development Regional Commission (CUPPAD) granted the recreation department $5,000 from the Prosperous Places Placemaking Mini-Grant Program in June 2018. The grant requires work to be completed by the end of June, 2019. In addition to the grant, the recreation department received $12,000 for installation of the dog park from an anonymous citizen.

Chouinard will continue to volunteer by consulting and supervising the installation of the fence. The fence line had to move slightly west due to a green electrical box in the original fence line.

“Construction will start later in June,” said Chouinard. “They’re going to use an auger to drill holes in the ground the day before installing the fence posts. We can’t come up to the hole the next day and find water in the hole right before trucking in concrete to set the posts.”

Smaller dogs, 17 inches or less at the shoulder, will have half an acre available to run and play in. One full acre will be available for large dogs 17 inches or more at the shoulder. Both areas will have double gates at the entry ways according to Peterson.

The City of Escanaba Parks and Recreation Department will maintain the dog park.

A full list of rules will be posted at the dog park. A sampling of the rules are below.

– All dogs shall wear visible licenses and dog name identification with contact number.

– All dogs must be legally licensed and vaccinated.

– No food and/or treats allowed inside the off-leashed area.

– Dogs must not be left unattended.

– Park users and dog owners assume all risks. Owners are legally responsible for their dogs and injuries caused by them.

– No dog toys allowed.

– Professional dog trainers shall not use the park to conduct their business.

– No smoking, food or alcohol is allowed at the dog park.

Volunteers who have signed up to help install the dog park will be contacted when a construction date is set. Additional volunteers interested in being part of the installation may contact the recreation department at 906-786-4141.