Bangor residents moving forward with dog park

Posted Dec. 30, 2009, at 9:22 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — City councilors gave approval this week for a resident committee to work closely with Parks and Recreation Department staff on the creation of a dog park.

Joe Knox, founder of the Bangor Area Regional K-9s, or BARK, said he was pleased with the response Tuesday from members of the council’s Government Operations Committee.

“I think it went very well. We’ll take advantage of the opportunity to meet with the parks and recreation director to iron out details,” Knox said Wednesday. “It seems like there is a strong undercurrent of support right now.”

Residents have discussed a dog park on and off over the last several years, but Parks and Recreation Director Tracy Willette agreed that the momentum is stronger now than it has ever been. Among responses to a recent online survey conducted by Willette’s department, the highest volume dealt with creating a dog park.

“This group seems to be very well-organized,” he said.

Councilors shared enthusiasm but they also had questions.

“The devil is always in the details,” Councilor Gerry Palmer said Wednesday. “It’s still early in the process, but there is no concrete funding source and still no exact location.”

“The main concern is budget and that’s something the city needs to be wise about,” added Councilor Cary Weston. “But it sounds as though they want to start fundraising. It’s fantastic to see citizens in action like this and what they are doing is not just to serve their own interests, but to create a community asset.”

Knox said the funding concerns are legitimate, and he stressed that he does not expect any financial contribution from the city outside of perhaps a donation of land.

“We plan to raise money privately through corporate donations and individual contributions,” he said.

The discussion over a dog park has many similarities with the creation of a skate park in Bangor several years ago. Willette said that process took more than a year, but Knox and other supporters are patient.

“We’re not thinking in terms of timelines,” he said. “We know it will be a marathon and not a sprint. We want it done right.”

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