Proposed pooch park provokes debate
The proposal to set up a secure dog park in Palmerston North has shifted location and turned into a free range dog socialisation area.
The draft Waitoetoe Park reserve development plan has been approved to go out for public consultation, including a dog exercise area that city councillor Lorna Johnson said ’’completely missed the point’’.
Before she was elected to the council, Johnson was part of a group that presented a petition asking for an enclosed dog park to be set up in the city.
The request was for a fenced area where people who were less agile than their dogs could confidently let their pets off their leads and know they would stay safe.
Early plans for the Linklater Reserve in Kelvin Grove included a dog park, but the need to locate it well off the road, away from houses and at the end of a costly new access road, priced the idea off the market.
After a series of other sites were considered, the council shifted part of the budget for a dog park to the opposite end of the city at Waitoetoe Park.
The development plan for the reserve, approved by the council’s sport and recreation committee, includes a dog activity area that is only partially fenced.
Landscape planner Shannon
‘‘This is a slightly enhanced dog off lead area and is not what was requested’’ Cr Lorna Johnson
Bray told councillors he did not like fences, and the people who valued Waitoetoe Park wanted it to be kept as natural and unstructured as possible.
The challenge with developing the park would be to resist overdevelopment, while managing potential conflict between walkers, cyclists, dogs and children.
He said dog walkers who used the park did not want to see an enclosure with six-foot-high fences where people went in with their dogs and locked the gate.
‘‘Fences are not the answer. The danger is you create an area with a false sense of security that you can let your dog go to do whatever it likes.’’
The plan would include some discrete fencing to keep dogs away from part of the Manawatu Riverside shared pathway to avoid conflict with cyclists.
The fences that were put in would be hidden among hedges and other planting.
The wetland area would not be fenced off, but would rather serve as a natural barrier, he said.
Johnson said the original submission was completely different to what was in the Waitoetoe plan.
She said the city already had a number of dog exercise areas, including Waitoetoe Park, and the request had been specifically about a secure, fenced park.
It would cater for dog owners with limited mobility, and those who struggled to keep their dogs under total control to prevent them running away.
‘‘This is a slightly enhanced dog off lead area and is not what was requested.’’
Cr Rachel Bowen said her concern was about conflict between dogs running loose, and children being encouraged to explore the natural setting.
‘‘You can achieve a lot with planting, but not necessarily the sense of security that there is a fence between your four year old and somebody’s massive doberman.’’
The draft development plan is expected to go out for formal consultation for a month.
Dog Day Sunday, the doggy get together that hatched a plan for a city dog park.