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Park District board to hear pitch for dog park

Millennial group would raise money for project

STERLING – The idea of building a dog park has been brought to the Sterling Park District before, but a new group will make its pitch to the board tonight.

Representatives from a millennial group affiliated with the Sauk Valley Area Chamber and Commerce and Sterling Main Street will be at the top of the agenda when the board of commissioners meets at 6 tonight at the Duis Recreation Center, 211 E. St. Mary’s Road.

The millennial group has been meeting every 6 weeks for about a year. The chamber, Main Street and the city helped to organize the group in an effort to get more young people active in the civic process.

A millennials subgroup has been formed to explore the dog park project, which is in the early planning stages. The millennials would take on the financial responsibilities at the front of the project.

“We’re letting them lead this, but they would come up with a plan to raise funds,” said Kris Noble, executive director of the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce. “It wouldn’t fall on the park district and taxpayers to pay for it.”

A site for the dog park hasn’t been decided, but previous efforts to bring a dog park to Sterling were centered on Thomas Park. In 2012, a group was organized to plan and raise money for Sterling Bark Park. Efforts fizzled, and were resurrected 2 years later, but fundraising again fell short.

Preliminary plans for Sterling Bark Park called for a pond, dock, an agility course, and separate areas for small and large dogs. The cost estimates came in between $150,000 and $200,000 – with about $70,000 of that designated for fencing.

There is ample space in Thomas Park, so it would likely be a prime candidate this time.

“Thomas Park is definitely a place we could consider, as is Hoover and Sinnissippi,” said Larry Schuldt, executive director at the Sterling Park District. “Part of the process would be a public meeting to hear any concerns from neighbors.”

As was the case with Sterling Bark Park, the park district wants to see a proposal for how the project would be funded.

“Any funding we would be contributing would be on the back-end, such as things related to maintenance,” Schuldt said.

The price of the dog park could be brought down considerably from the previous estimates, Schuldt said. If they could find someone to put up the fence, that part of the project could drop to $40,000. The cost could be held between $50,000 and $100,000 if amenities such as obstacle courses were excluded.

What's next

Representatives of the millennial group will make a presentation on its dog park project when the Sterling Park District Board of Commissioners next meets at 6 tonight at Duis Recreation Center, 211 E. St. Mary's Road.

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