Vicky Klukkert, The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y.
Aug. 10—A group of Hancock residents is raising money to build a dog park behind the town hall on West Main Street.
Jill Keller, co-chair of the Hancock Hounds Dog Park Inc., said local residents have tried to plan a dog park for years, “but were put off by the daunting process of setting it up, lack of support in obtaining land and, perhaps most intimidating, the structuring of a not-profit.”
She said the paperwork has been filed to start the nonprofit organization and the committee expects to earn its tax exempt status in a few months.
The committee presented its intentions to build a dog park on July 13 to the town board. Members said they were looking for land to house the dog park, preferably in the village according to the town board minutes. During the meeting, Hancock village Mayor Carolann McGrath told the board the village had no property available for the dog park, according to the minutes.
“We understood that finding land was a priority, and the exploratory committee was prepared that this initiative could take a couple years to afford to buy land and build,” Keller said. “Our co-chairs and committee members reached out to both public and private land owners, as well as local leaders about opportunities to purchase or acquire land through a lease or land use agreement. However, we didn’t have any formal information about the Town Hall land other than it might be worth asking about during a public town meeting.”
According to the committee’s latest newsletter, “Our local leaders from the Town of Hancock have generously offered the Hancock Hounds Dog Park the licensed use of land behind the Hancock Town Hall, which is currently under review for final approval. Construction can start in the coming months.”
Keller said, “We were truly blown away by the town board’s support, and the town’s willingness to help the committee in this very generous way.”
Hancock town Supervisor Jerry Vernold said the town was approached by the town’s dog control officer in May to build a dog park behind the town hall. He said the town was in favor of the dog park and attorneys for the town and the committee are negotiating the licensing agreement.
“I know they’re really excited about the park, but it’s not official until we sign the agreement,” he said.
He said the town will also install 16 electric vehicle charging stations — eight funded by the New York Power Authority and eight by Tesla — behind the town hall. “People can come off of Route 17 and charge their car while they walk their dog,” Vernold said.
In addition to the town licensing the land to the committee, Keller said, “We are in the process of working with a local landscape architect, Sean Leddy, generously provided by Delaware County, who have been incredibly supportive of our initiative. He has already been to the property and is in the process of putting together a plan for initial drainage, setup layout and advice, and he will consult with us on how best to build a long-lasting park that also preserves the land parcel and protects local vegetation and wildlife, as much as the park itself.”
Keller said the park will be broken up into two sections, based on the size of the dogs. She said the first phase of construction would include metal or wooden benches, tables outside the the fenced-in areas for eating and watching, double-gated entry, signage, a containment area for dogs that are overexcited or that need to relax, and waste management materials. The second phase of construction would include water and electric hookups for better lighting and enhanced water features for hot summer days.
She said the park will be open to the public and managed by the committee. The committee is raising funds for the dog park by selling merchandise with the committee’s logo on it, seeking private donations and applying for grants. The committee said it hopes to raise $50,000 by Christmas.
“Our community promise was not to use taxpayer funds from the town on the dog park,” Keller said. “If we are able to secure any grants, donors or official sponsors within 45 days and sign our land use agreement, we could break ground before Halloween, so the park is weathered and ready in the spring for regular use. That would also allow us the time in between to make small improvements.”
Keller said the committee is asking the public for thoughts, ideas and suggestions over the next two months as the park is planned.
“We also hope everyone will visit the park when it’s complete, and in the meantime, you can learn all about the Hancock Hounds Dog Park at www.hancockhounds.com,” she said.
Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_VickyK on Twitter.