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Council upholds dog park closure

By JIM BREWER Published: July 11, 2017 4:00 AM

Despite an emotional and at times tearful response from one of the Girl Scouts that helped build it, members of Loudonville Village Council stood firm on their decision to close the village dog park on Wally Road at their meeting Monday, July 3.

Village maintenance department staff disassembled the dog park fence earlier the same day, much to the chagrin of the leader of Girl Scout Troop 2354, Tammy Fraser, who led her troop in building the dog park in the summer of 2011.

A member of the Troop, Sarah Fraser, told council members, "I was heartbroken when I heard the park had been taken down. That summer, we, meaning me and several other troop members and our parents, worked until we were sick in terribly hot weather in June and July to build the dog park. We worked with the village council then to build the park, and it breaks my heart more that today's council can undo what we did."

Leader Fraser reminded council members the same summer the girls paid for and erected the service flags in Central Park behind the Veterans Memorial. "Both have been abused by village work, lawn mowers nicking the bases of the flags and tearing up the fences," she said.

Sarah Fraser said the Girl Scouts paid for equipment for the dog park and the service flags by selling more than 13,000 boxes of Girl Scout cookies that spring.

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Fraser's brother, Ted, said he had approached several businesses who told him they would help maintain the dog park, only to notice this afternoon it had been torn down. He also said he had talked with Village Administrator Curt Young and Mayor Steve Stricklen about preserving the park.

"Our decision has nothing to do with the Girl Scouts or their efforts," Council member Traci Cooper said. "It has to do with safety and liability. The fence was deteriorating, holes in it or dug under it, and in such a condition it would be easy for a dog to escape from it. In addition, the ground at the dog park (located at the south end of the Riverside Park area on Wally Road) is wet and muddy. If we build a new dog park, I would hope we can locate it in a dryer site."

Village maintenance supervisor John Burkhart brought the fence condition to a head by bringing a sample of the dog park fence, along with a sample that the village is mandated to use around its kiddie pool.

"This fence was made with 12-gauge steel, very flimsy, while the pool fence is 9-gauge. Plus it was mounted on poles too small to properly hold it," Burkhart said. "It is just weak material. Mowers did no damage to it. Big dogs could knock this fence down."

Mayor Stricklen then added that several cities and villages do not have dog parks for this reason -- bigger dogs can damage the fences. But he also said he would be willing to work with the Girl Scouts and other groups to have a dog park established in a better location.

In other business at a busy, one-hour, 10-minute long meeting, Georgia Kauffman, executive director of the Loudonville-Mohican Visitors Bureau, asked if she could be included in discussions between the village and the Ohio Department of Transportation in their project to replace the West Main Street bridge in summer 2018.

"We are concerned about how construction and closure of the bridge, and disruption of canoe traffic on the river, will impact both tourist and regular business," Kauffman said. "We would like to work out arrangements to have work done at night, or maybe on a Monday through Thursday schedule, so canoeists could use the river on busy weekends."

Council authorized Young to have Kauffman accompany him to negotiations with ODOT on the project.

A letter from ODOT project manager Kent A. Kapustar indicated sensitivity to the canoeing situation but also indicated at least some of the construction would have to take place during the peak canoeing season, between Memorial and Labor Day holidays.

Law Director Thom Gilman posed an intriguing legal question on the project, noting "ODOT clearly has the authority to replace the bridge, since it carries traffic for Ohio 39, but I don't see where it has authority to close the river. Canoe traffic does not just involve local liveries but also hundreds of privately owned canoes. Can they keep them off the river?"

Kauffman noted canoeists may have to portage their canoes, and whatever they carry in them, from above to below the bridge, prompting another question, "Where would these canoes put back in the water?" Gilman asked. "Village-owned property at Riverside Park, both sides, involves pretty steep banks."

In other business, council:

■ approved payment of $2,500 for final construction administration costs for the East Main Street sidewalk project;

■ approved payment of $2,000 to correct a homeowner issue with one of the sidewalk/driveways revised in the project;

■ learned the Ohio Public Works Commission has approved a $500,000 grant to build a new village water reservoir west of South Mount Vernon Avenue;

■ approved Trinity Community Church holding its annual ice cream festival in Central Park on Sept. 3 and a wedding on the Riverside Park Bridge for 30 minutes on July 29;

■ granted the Chamber of Commerce a $200 donation toward the 2017 fireworks show, which Stricklen commented, "was one of the best in recent memory." Fire Chief Mike Carey said the much-applauded finale to the show was the first of its kind ever utilized by Zambelli's, the fireworks show operator;

■ watched Mayor Stricklen swear in Adam T. Harper as a new police patrolman;

■ declined obtaining a corporate membership to the Rotary Club of Loudonville because representatives are not available for noon meetings; and

■ purchased new GPS equipment to be used by several different village departments.


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