By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The Planning Board this week approved construction of two amenities this week — the second phase of the Winnipesaukee-Opechee-Winnisquam (WOW) Trail and the Happy Tails Dog Park.
Following the decision of the City Council to eliminate the dedicated right turn lane from New Salem Street to Main Street as well as the 12 parking spaces on New Salem Street below the intersection with Plesant Street, the board approved the amended plan for the second phase of the WOW Trail. The second phase stretches some 5,000 feet from the Laconia Public Library to the Belmont Town Line, following the railroad right-of-way for virtually all of its length.
Only Bill Contardo expressed misgivings.
"It's not what you want to do, but how you want to get it done," he said, voicing concern at the treatment of abutting property owners. Allan Beetle, president of the WOW Trail committee, reminded Contardo that some abutters had treated land within the railroad right-of-way, which is owned by the state, as if it belonged to them and said that many hours were spent with them seeking to mitigate the impact of the trail on their property.
Beetle said that he expects construction to begin next month and be substantially complete by November.
The dog park would be sited on approximately two acres of a 25-acre rectangular tract between the end of Spruce Street and Growtth Road, which is owned by the city. The city acquired the land in 1976 with a grant from the Land and Water Conservation Fund, established by Congress in 1965, which the restricts the property to recreational uses.
Jon Rokeh of Rokeh Consulting of Chichester, who designed the park, said that originally he planned a flat graded rectangle divided into two abutting enclosures, one for large dogs and another for small dogs, and a third separate enclosure, for puppies. Instead, the existing terrain, with some thinning of the trees, will be enclosed by a six-foot fence within an oval, split into two sections, each approximately 250 feet by 100 feet, for small and large dogs, leaving the area for puppies at its original 20 feet by 60 feet unchanged. The dimensions of the park are relatively large compared to other municipal parks.
Rokeh told the board that doggy bags will be available from dispensers outside and inside the enclosures and the rules governing the park will be posted at the entrance. Kevin Dunleavy, director of parks and recreation, assured the Planning Board that city ordinances governing the management of dogs in city parks will apply to the dog park as well.
The park, which is between 200 and 300 feet from the nearest abutter, will be reached from the end of Growtth Road near the southern entrance to the Lakes Business Park, where a 20-foot gravel driveway would lead to a graveled parking lot with spaces for 20 vehicles. The park will not not be served by either water or electricity. The projected annual maintenance costs of between $1,500 and $2,000 will be borne by members of the Happy Trails Dog Park, who will also manage and police the facility.
A generous donation of $100,000 from the Lezama family of Laconia will finance construction of the park, which will bear the Lezama name, as well as endow a fund for its maintenance.
The plan for a dog park off Growtth Road in Laconia will have separate areas for small dogs, large dogs and puppies. (Courtesy graphic)
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