AP NEWS

Stratford dog park could open this year

February 18, 2019

STRATFORD — The leader of a group looking to open a dog park in town says the long-planned facility could open this year at last.

Town officials are in talks with members of the Stratford Dog Park Action Committee on a license agreement to operate the park at the site of the former ranger station in Roosevelt Forest off Peters Lane.

Dog park advocates looked at dozens of other potential in town for more than a decade before deciding on the site.

The Town Council approved the Roosevelt Forest location in March 2017, but the nonprofit group is looking to incorporate itself in order to obtain an insurance policy and sign the legal documents to take over management and oversight of the property, Laura Lockshier, its president, said.

She hopes to have all the paperwork completed within the next few weeks.

Plans call for a 1-acre area for large dogs and a half-acre area for smaller dogs, along with a parking lot with space for about 15 cars.

In addition, organizers are working with a Girl Scout troop and an Eagle Scout to build agility elements for pooches to play with inside the park. Troop 72 Boy Scout Nick Macisco built a kiosk at the entrance to the park as part of an Eagle Scout project last year.

The park will be named after Jared Levine, a former Stratford EMT and dog-lover who died in 2016. Levine’s parents have provided significant donations to the dog park committee, Lockshier said.

She said she hopes the park could be open at some point in 2019.

“We’re hoping this year, as long as we can do the incorporation process, sign the license agreement with the town, then the Town Council just has to approve that license agreement,” she said. “Then after that point we can actually start (construction).”

Chris Tymniak, the town’s chief administrative officer, said if all goes well the park could welcome its first in spring.

“Ideally we’ll have it opened soon,” he said.

Lockshier estimated the buildout would take two to three months.

She pegged the cost at under $100,000, though she hoped local businesses might donate goods and services to minimize expenses.

The group is accepting tax-deductible donations through its website.

Lockshier asked anyone who wants to volunteer to reach out via the Stratford Dog Park Facebook page, website, or via email to jaredsdogpark@gmail.com.

She hopes the current core of about 10 volunteers can at least double as the project comes closer to fruition.

“We just really want to get more people involved because the more people we have the better success it will be,” she said.

ethan.fry@hearstmediact.com