voiced their opinions on the inclusion of a dog park in the long-range plan
for Porter parks at the Town Council meeting Tuesday night.
Earlier this year,
Parks Director Brian Bugajski authored a long-range improvement plan for
Porter parks. The plan includes proposed improvements, descriptions,
estimated costs, and potential sources of funding for 52 projects at six
parks that would have a total known cost of $420,000. He emphasized that the
plan is only a framework for the future--not a commitment to any
projects--and the funding sources suggested are only ideas. At the March 27
Town Council meeting, he said that inclusion in the plan doesn’t guarantee
that every project will be completed or be funded from the suggested
In April, Bugajski
opened a 30-day public comment period for the plan that garnered 10
responses, seven of which referred to the possible addition of a dog park to
Kid’s Cove Park in the Porter Cove subdivision.
First up last night
was Dawn Bugarin, a resident of Porter Cove, who appeared to express her
opposition for the dog park. Bugarin revealed that she had zeroed in on a
comment by Council member Greg Stinson about how seven comments may not be
enough opposition to remove the dog park from the long-range plan. She
reported that she and her husband George went door-to-door in Porter Cove
and found 57 residents were opposed to the dog park and 16 were in favor.
Erik Wagner responded, “I appreciate the effort to go knock on doors. That’s
a lot of work, but I’ve personally talked to a lot of people that would love
a dog park.” He added that Kid’s Cove was chosen as the best possible
location because of its size and proximity to a trail.
expressed concern about kids being bitten at the park and public health,
citing an example of a dog park in Denver shutting down recently due to
concerns about E. coli. “We don’t want a dog park in our subdivision. I
don’t think you’d want one next to your house, but you want us to have it
next to our houses.”
“This isn’t about
not liking dogs. This is about kids and dogs and which is more important. We
feel that kids are more important,” he added.
Wager pointed out
that the plan is not suggesting a dog park be put in at Kid’s Cove over
improvements to the playground. “There’s nothing that says the dog park is
gonna come first or that money is being taken away from equipment for a dog
Kathy Cochran, for
her part, said she and her dog frequent dog parks in other towns, and she
supports having one in Porter. Cochran said, “The abstract idea of a dog
park is one thing and the idea of how a dog park actually works in a
community is another thing.”
Cochran noted that
in her experience, dog parks are enclosed and have strict rules, including
breed restrictions and not allowing young children to come into the
enclosure. She also said the dog owners tend to police each other in picking
up after their dogs and share dog bags. “It may well be something that
attracts people to this area because Chesterton doesn’t have one yet,” she
Ryan Grocman said
that there were too many unanswered questions for him. He said he’d like to
know where money for the dog park would come from when the Town Council has
not taken significant steps to replace the playground equipment at Kid’s
Cove. He also asked who would enforce rules and questioned dog park policy.
“It’s called a dog
park. So can you take a cat there? What if I want to bring my animals into
the dog park? That’s discriminating. We got a guy that’s got a goat in our
neighborhood. Why can’t he take it over there?”
Grocman added that
he has read that property values can decrease when a dog park is nearby, and
“When I moved to this subdivision, I didn’t look for a dog park. I looked
for a park for my children.”
and Corinne Peffers also voiced opposition to the dog park.
The Council members
deliberated on the matter later on. Bugajski gave them two versions of the
plan, one including the dog park and one leaving out plans for a dog park.
The Council briefly
discussed polling all Town of Porter residents, but Wagner noted that an
online poll would probably allow people to vote more than once. Police Chief
Jamie Spanier suggested the poll could be put on the bottom of residents’
sewer bills, but Wagner noted that those bills already went out, and another
won’t be due for a couple months.
Brian Finley said he understood why Porter Cove residents oppose a plan for
a dog park, and said he probably wouldn’t want one next to his house either.
Member Ross LeBleu chimed in, “I’m in favor of a dog park. The Town needs a
Member Bill Lopez,
for his part, said there is more that needs to be considered, such as
liability if someone is bitten at the dog park and how much it would cost to
Bugajski spoke up
noting again that the plan has no timeframe, and his inclusion of plans for
a dog park only signals that the Town thinks Kid’s Cove would be the best
location for a dog park. He added, “If something down the road changes and
we can put it somewhere else, we can always revisit that.”
he’d hate to see the plan leave out all plans for a dog park, offered the
tie breaker. He suggested the Council approve the plan, contingent on
Bugajski removing the language that the dog park would be at Kid’s Cove.
“Then at least it’s in the plan, and it’s not just falling by the wayside.”
The Council voted
unanimously to approve the long-range plan with that change. The new plan
will include plans for a dog park, but will say the ideal location of such a
park is yet to be determined.