By MICHAEL KITCH, LACONIA DAILY SUN
LACONIA — The more than 6,000 registered dogs in the city and neighboring towns of Belmont, Gilford and Meredith may be frollicking in a park of their own in the South End of the city this summer.
Ginny Martin, president of Happy Tails Dog Park told the City Council Monday that a generous benefactor, the Lezama family, has offered to not only underwrite construction of the park but also endow a fund to maintain it. Martin said that altogether the family has offered to contribute $100,000 to the project. She expected a plan would be presented to the Planning Board in the spring with an eye to beginning work in the summer.
Founded in 2008 as a nonprofit corporation, Happy Tails Dog Park spent five years seeking a suitable site and in 2013 approached the Parks and Recreation Department about building the park on on part 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.
Happy Tails proposes to lease two acres at the southeast end of the property. John Rokeh, of Rokeh Consulting LLC of Chichester, has prepared a plan for the park, which includes two abutting enclosures, each 78 feet by 130 feet, one for large dogs and another for small dogs, and a third separate enclosure, 20 feet by 60 feet, for puppies. The park would be reached from the end of Growtth Road, where a 20-foot gravel driveway would lead to a graveled parking lot with spaces for 19 vehicles. The park would not not be served by either water or electricity and Martin estimated that the annual maintenance costs would fall between $1,500 and $2,000. The park, she said, would be managed, policed and maintained by members of Happy Trails Dog Park.
The site plan for the dog park must be approved by the Planning Board and a lease agreement concluded between Happy Tails Dog Park and the city.
Altogether, there are a dozen public, fenced dog parks in New Hampshire, including urban dog parks in Concord, Portsmouth, Hooksett, Manchester, Derry, Rochester, Nashua and Dover.
Also at the City Council:
• At its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, March 21, the City Council will begin forming a citizens committee to make arrangements to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the founding of the City of Laconia in 2018. Pam Clark of the Laconia Museum and Historical Society told the council that past anniversaries have been marked by a parade, entertainment, souvenirs and mementos. Mayor Ed Engler noted that the committee would require funding, which would be included in the 2016-2017 municipal budget adopted in July, suggesting that the committee be convened in April.
• The City Council endorsed the recommendation of its Government Operations and Ordinances Committee to uphold the ordinance prohibiting operators of boats engaged in commercial enterprises from mooring theirs vessels at municipal docks. Two businesses had inquired about leasing space at the docks at The Weirs.
• With the mild winter and light snowfall, the the Department of Public Works spent less than half its winter maintenance through the end of February. Altogether the department spent $181,756, or 41 percent of the $445,500 appropriated for plowing, salting and sanding, including the cost of overtime wages and material purchases.
The Happy Tails Dog Park is proposed for the land noted above. (Graphic courtesy Google Maps)