A years-long effort to build a dog park in the City of Monroe has a new leash on life.
On Monday, Monroe City Council unanimously approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Monroe Public Schools to continue the exploration of opportunities to plan and build a dog park within the city. Roessler Park, which is owned by the school district, has been identified as a possible location for the project. Monroe-based James S. Jacobs Architecture has developed an initial site plan for the park.
The Community Foundation of Monroe has long had just under $20,000 set aside to help fund the construction of a dog park in the city. But several previous attempts to find a suitable location for the development came up empty. In January 2020, city council heard an update from Economic and Community Development Director, Mark Cochran, who said that discussions with various community groups and homeowners associations across the city had failed to produce a single viable location.
Cochran said Monday that he and other members of the city's administration have been in discussion with MPS administration and school board members for a little over a year regarding collaborating on a community-minded project.
"We've tossed around a lot of different ideas, had some discussions, and of course one of those that raised to the top more recently was the idea of a dog park," Cochran said. "For over ten years, the city has had various discussions at various levels and stages about a potential dog park in the city..."
Cochran said the city previously approached the school district with the idea of using Roessler as the site of the dog park. At that time, the school board expressed reservations about the location, and, according to Cochran "the conversation kind of died off."
"But it was revisited within this past year as we’ve been having these discussions," Cochran said Monday. "The school board was agreeable to bringing this proposal forward..."
While plans are very much in flux at this point, Jacobs' initial design of the dog park calls for separate dog runs for small and big dog breeds. There would also be a separate area for dogs who aren't ready for full socialization, as well as amenities such as shelter and water.
Roessler Park currently features four baseball diamonds, two of which would remain in the event the dog park project goes forward. The city previously contracted with the district to use two of the fields for its youth ball programs, but those have since been consolidated at Munson Park.
"This location was identified for a couple of different reasons," Cochran said. "First it's vacant and located within sort of a central part of the city. It's within walkable distance to neighborhoods... there's the high rise across the street, and this could be an amenity for the residents (there)... as well as the fact that it's in the flood plain and can't be built on."
Cochran said that neither the city nor the school district intends to front the cost for construction and upkeep of the dog park by themselves. Besides being partners in the project, they would also seek additional outside assistance in the forms of grants, sponsors and fundraising.
"This isn't something that either the school district or the city is envisioning to build all on our own," he said.
Multiple members of city council expressed their excitement at the idea that this long-discussed project could finally become a reality.
"This has been long time coming," said Councilwoman Michelle Germani. "It’s about time we go forward."
The Monroe Public Schools Board of Education is expected to review the MOU and take action on it at their meeting Tuesday.
This article originally appeared on The Monroe News: City, Monroe Public Schools looking at building dog park