Dog park proposed for part of city-owned tract in South End

LACONIA — There are more than 6,000 dogs registered in the city and neighboring towns of Belmont, Gilford and Meredith who could enjoy a park of their own if the city approves a proposal by Happy Tails Dog Park of Belmont will present to the Parks and Recreation Commission later this month.
After seeking a suitable site for the past five years, Happy Tails, a nonprofit corporation, has prepared a plan to build the park on part of a 25-acre rectangular tract in the South End, between the end of Spruce Street and Growtth Road, which is owned by the city. The city purchased the land in 1976 with a Land, Water, Conservation grant from the federal government, which restricts the property to recreational uses.
Happy Tails seeks to lease four or five acres at the southeast end of the property to house a parking area, access paths and two fenced dog parks, one of 1.3 acres divided in half for small and large dogs and another 40 feet by 20 feet for puppies. Brie Stanley, president of Happy Tails, said that the park would be larger than most dog parks in the state and the play pen for puppies would be unique.
There are nine urban dog parks in the state — in Concord, Portsmouth, Hooksett, Manchester, Derry, Rochester, Nashua, Conway and Dover — seven of them on municipal property, but only four managed by the municipality. Stanley said that Happy Tails would ask to lease the land at no charge while itself bearing all the costs of constructing, managing and maintaining the dog park, including the insurance required to indemnify the city. The agreement would run for five years, after which the city would have the option to either renew or cancel the lease or assume management of the dog park. The agreement between the city of Manchester and the Manchester Dog Park Association, she suggested, could serve as a model for Laconia.
Stanley said that Happy Tails will present a conceptual plan to the Technical Review Committee convened by the Planning Department on Wednesday, June 12, to the Parks and Recreation Commission the following week and finally to the City Council. If the proposal is welcomed a fully engineered site plan would be prepared for the final approval of the Planning Board and Parks and Recreation Commission and an agreement drafted for the City Council. .