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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Dog park advocates 'optimistic' about project

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  • Ashley Klein believes the city of Newton is getting closer to the long-time community dream of having a dog park. Planning on the project continues, but Klein is hopeful funding for the park will be secured this year.
    "At this point I'm optimistic there will be a dog park," said Klein, who is the owner of Blue Skies Pet Care and a Newton dog park advocate. "Mostly it's a matter of where funding will come from."
    Klein became involved in the dog park project in spring 2012. The city had dog park funding discussions but it was ultimately taken off the budget, she said. She has been told there is room in the parks department's operational budget, but it will be up to city commissioners to request that the project move forward.
    Advocates want to start by setting up a fenced-in area so dogs can run and play off the leash. The park likely will include dividers separating large and small dogs, as well as a double-gated entrance to prevent dogs from escaping. Other options include benches for owners to sit on and a drinking fountain.
    The location currently being considered is Centennial Park. Klein said some of the ideal features about the location include a paved road leading to the park, paved parking and direct access to the bike path. It also is separated from residential areas.
    Klein said the dog park will help the community by providing a place for pet owners to socialize and exercise their dogs. A pet with too much energy without a way to release it can lead to behavioral problems. Even those who don't own dogs could benefit from the park; a designated play area for dogs will keep the pets out of unauthorized areas in the community. Pet owners also won't have to travel to another community to find a dog park.
    Another funding option could be Pet Safe's "Bark for Your Park" contest, which Klein is planning on entering. Voting opens May 7 through June 7. The grand prize is $100,000, with four $25,000 runner-up prizes. Community members can vote daily. Find more information and links to the contest at www.newtonksdogpark.com, where you also can sign up for daily reminders to vote.
    Klein said the best way for community members to help with the dog park project is to contact city commissioners and encourage them to support the project. You also can attend public dog park meetings on May 8, 9 or 10. Watch www.newtonksdogpark.com for times/locations of the meetings.
    "It is exciting for the pet community," Klein said of the project.

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