Siemann unleashes on dog park plan
Mayor failed in his 'last pitch' for the project to council members
February 5, 2014
Adams Elementary fifth-grade students pitched their dog park idea to the City Council last year. The students raised about $1,000 and had pledges of a further $2,000.
Councilwoman Carolyn Siemann said she's fielded dozens of complaints about a proposed dog park for Carroll.
Many residents of the Northeast Park area didn't want one, saying it would create nuisances. Others have cited the $60,000 city staff proposed in a draft budget as money that would be poorly spent. And there were more reasons, Siemann said.
"I've just heard it over and over," Siemann said. "It wasn't my personal opinion."
Siemann said she's responded to the 30 to 40 people who have reached out to her via phone, email and in person to oppose a dog park.
"The public doesn't want a dog park," she said.
Siemann said dog parks in other cities often are "eyesores" and centers for disease transfer and biting and other harmful activity, both to man and pet.
On Monday, during a council budget session, Siemann's view prevailed as it is clear funding for a dog park will be stripped from the city's capital plan.
Mayor Adam Schweers, who supports a city operated dog park, says he's accepted the reality that it won't happen with the current council.
"I made my last push for it," Schweers said this morning.
Schweers said progressive cities all over the United States have dog parks for their residents. He doesn't see Carroll as a pioneer of dog parks, but rather a city that, without funding one, is losing another feature attractive to young professionals and potential new residents.
"People own dogs from 8 to 80," Schweers said.
A group of fifth-graders in Ashlea Ahrenholtz's class at Adams Elementary School last year made a high-profile project out of developing a dog park. They raised about $1,000 with $2,000 more in pledges and more fundraising planned for a dog park, a fenced-in facility with water fountains and play features for canines. The kids suggested Northeast Park.
Other potential locations mentioned were Minchen Park, Maple Park and the softball/soccer complex near the Carroll Middle School.
Schweers said he has the unfortunate task of visiting with the kids, now in sixth grade, and telling them the city can't use their money - that their idea is dead as a public project for now.
"Maybe somebody else will bring this forward," Schweers said.
Ahrenholtz, who now teaches fourth grade, said a local church has approached her about developing a dog park on its property and allowing public use. Another possibility is that the schoolchildren donate their money to Animal Rescue of Carroll.
"I'm sure it is disappointing to a point," Ahrenholtz said, noting the she receives emails weekly from her former students asking for updates on what the council is doing with the dog park.
But the positives of the kids' experience last year - presenting to the Carroll City Council and holding meetings with The Daily Times Herald and getting involved in civic life - outweigh the council's decision, she said.
"Just because you were told 'no' doesn't mean it's always negative," Ahrenholtz said.
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