CARBONDALE — A citizen-led group that plans to design and develop a dog park in Carbondale says the project has fallen behind schedule but hopes to have a location for the facility in November.
Friends of Carbondale Dog Parks, which held its first public meeting in February, originally planned to complete construction of the park by spring 2018.
Kathy Renfro, executive director of the Carbondale Park District, said she is “optimistic” that the board will select a site for the project at its Nov. 13 meeting.
The two possible sites for the park include Hickory Lodge — the property that houses the Park District’s main office — and Parrish Park.
Renfro said the Park District staff has been seeking feedback from homeowners in the neighborhoods surrounding the two sites.
Jane Adams, president of Friends of Carbondale Dog Parks, said the group favors the Hickory Lodge site for several reasons. She said the site would be easier and less expensive to develop because it is close to a well-maintained parking lot, has good access for people with limited mobility, already has utilities onsite and features good shade on the west side of the lot.
In addition, the group likes that the Hickory Lodge site is centrally located in the most diverse part of Carbondale in terms of age, profession, income, race and nationality, she said.
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“It’s a really diverse neighborhood. So that’s a plus, because it’ll bring people together who can walk or easily get there and who can get to know each other,” Adams said.
She believes the dog park would help Hickory Lodge fulfill its mission to serve the community. The property was donated to the Parks District in 1978.
“Hickory Lodge itself is such a gem, and it really needs to be used by the community,” Adams said.
Parrish Park features good turf, but utilities would have to be brought in and the parking lot would be farther away from the dog park area.
Friends of Carbondale Dog Parks has been waiting for the Park District to select a site so it can move forward with finalizing a budget and fundraising. The group plans to apply for grants and to conduct local fundraising.
“We’re still plugging along. We’re a little frustrated it’s taken so long, and a bit disappointed that the board didn’t seem more enthusiastic (about the Hickory Lodge option). … We did get the feeling that they were supportive of the idea of the dog park, it was just nailing down the place,” Adams said.