HAVERHILL — Mayor James Fiorentini gained the City Council’s support last night to apply for a grant to build a dog park in the city.
Fiorentini proposed having two fenced-in areas at the rear of Riverside Park. One area would be for small to large dogs, another would be just for small dogs. Both would have double gates for security. He said he wanted the council’s support before he applies for a grant through the Stanton Foundation that would pay the bulk of the costs.
“Everywhere I go, dog lovers come up to me and say, why don’t we have a dog park in Haverhill?” Fiorentini said.
Recreation Director Vincent Ouellette outlined a plan that calls for converting a green area not used for play or for picnics into a small fenced-in park for small dogs. An adjacent fenced-in area would be for large dogs, and also accommodate owners of small and large dogs.
Ouellette said the plan calls for asking dog owners to register with the city and pay a nominal fee. He said the revenue would help pay for maintenance and by having dog owners register, the city would have a record of who is using the area.
Ouellette said the city wants to apply for a grant through the Stanton Foundation, which would provide financial support to underwrite the design, construction and partial ongoing support of a new dog park. He said preliminary design grants range from $15,000 to $25,000 and construction implementation grants would cover up to 90 percent of the cost.
He said to qualify for the grant, the city must agree to fund 10 percent of the construction cost, provide ongoing maintenance and gain community support for a dog park.
Councilor Thomas Sullivan said he was on a commission in the past that studied locations for a dog park in the city, but that each of three proposed areas came under fire from neighbors. He said he supported the mayor’s proposal but worried that neighbor’s would oppose it.