PERU - The Friends of Peru Dog Park is picking up where it left off more than three years ago.
The committee, headed up by town resident Ann Wilke, is once again examining plans to establish a dog park at the site of the former Heyworth Village, located in the hamlet off State Route 22, along the Little Ausable River. The idea for an off-leash park was formally presented to the Peru Town Council in August 2007, and was met largely with positive feedback, Wilke said. However, resistance to the idea from at least one former council member is what caused a slowdown in the project moving forward, she noted.
"Unfortunately, everything was put on hold due to town board difficulties," Wilke said.
The new make-up of the board has been "very supportive of the dog park project," she added, as council members "eagerly await hearing about new developments and progress with it."
The overall cost of the project has not been determined, though the initial expense for basic materials was estimated at more than $14,000. Regardless, the cost to make the park a reality is one that will not be shouldered by taxpayers, Wilke emphasized, adding town employees would be responsible for maintaining the park once open. Donations of materials for the project such as fencing and benches have either been or are in the process of being secured.
"As time progressed, it became evident that most of these materials could be donated by local individuals and businesses, as has been done in many of the dog parks around the U.S.," Wilke said. "We have already received a couple of donations, but the word is hardly out."
One way the committee is hoping to attract donations toward the project is by devising a way to recognize those who contribute.
"Our intent is to make note in an appropriate way, of all the donors," Wilke said. "For example, if a bench or sections of fence are donated, the names of these individuals or businesses will be mounted on a plaque on the fence or bench, or perhaps engraved onto the back of the bench."
The committee is designing the project to be community-oriented, and, to that end, has already reached out to CV-TEC and the Peru Central School District for involvement, Wilke said.
Peru Central students are in the process of coming up with a name and logo for the park, while CV-TEC forestry students have plans to be involved in cleaning up and trimming the wooded area surrounding the dog park, she said. The vocational school's carpentry students will construct dog waste bag dispensers, waste receptacles, benches and dog play equipment.
CV-TEC students have also indicated interest in installing fencing once obtained, added Wilke.
"The students at CV-TEC will be available to help us while school is in session, but they are out for the summer. Thus, work will start as soon as is practicable this spring, and then will probably halt for the summer," Wilke said. "With luck, we will be able to start constructing the fence in the fall, when school commences in September and the CV-TEC students are again available."
Though the dog park won't be ready for use this summer, Wilke believes it could be operational to a certain degree by this fall.
"We hope this will become a focal point for townspeople to meet and greet each other, as well as to exercise their dogs," she said.
Friends of Peru Dog Park will host an informational meeting about the proposed dog park Friday, May 6, at the Peru Community Church Fellowship Center, 13 Elm St., beginning at 7 p.m. The meeting will include information about the committee's plans, activities for young and old relating to dogs and their needs and a presentation by a certified dog trainer.
For more information, call Wilke at 643-2483.