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Published: Thursday, 7/25/2013

Toledoans plan to build a dog park at Woodsdale Park

BY KELLY McLENDON
BLADE STAFF WRITER

With her two dogs in her arms, Toledo Unleashed president Tina Yoppolo stood underneath a pavilion at Woodsdale Park on Thursday night, talking to community members about the off-leash dog park her organization plans to bring to the area as soon as possible. 

Ms. Yoppolo addressed noise, waste and other issues during the neighborhood meeting, which lasted an hour, and was attended by about 15 people. 

Toledo Unleashed, an organization that promotes opportunities for dogs to socialize and to be safely off their leashes in the Toledo area, has been planning the park since 2009. The former location of the South Toledo YMCA, near the Anthony Wayne Trail in Woodsdale Park, will be used for the facility. 

The organization submitted an application for a special use permit for a four-acre parcel at the site in June. The city has sent the group a draft lease permit and the request will go before the city's planning commission Aug. 8. If approved, it will go to the council's zoning and planning committee on Sept. 11.

A final date for the opening of the facility has not been set. The cost of the park, estimated to be about $65,000, will be paid for through fund-raising efforts and private donations, Ms. Yoppolo said.

The city currently owns the land and plans to lease it to Toledo Unleashed for $5 for five years.

During the meeting, a neighborhood resident who later declined to identify herself to a Blade reporter, expressed concerns about safety issues related to the park.

She said she was worried about more traffic in the area, deer who come up from the river and visit the area, and an increase in potential nighttime activities at the park, such as theft.

“You'd be surprised what goes on in here overnight,” she said.

Sue Joseph, a member of Toledo Unleashed, assured the woman that the dog park will only be open from sunrise to sunset. Residents who purchase a membership pass will have to scan a key card, which will be recorded on a computer system. Each time a member checks into the park, there will be a record, she said.

Ms. Yoppolo said residents and visitors are urged to call the police department if they see anything that concerns them.

Toledo Councilman D. Michael Collins, who attended the meeting to hear the concerns of residents, predicted that starting a dog park here will create a trend that will be replicated in other places.

“I believe that this is a true value added to the city of Toledo,” said Mr. Collins, who added that he owns a golden retriever.

Denny Garvin, commissioner of the City's division of parks, recreation and forestry, also attended the meeting. He said the city has never had a dog park and from seeing the parks in other communities, he said they are popular community places.

Residents were also concerned about privacy fences and membership costs.

Ms. Yoppolo said a membership for one dog for one year will cost between $35 and $50. The exact cost is yet to be determined by Toledo Unleashed board members.

All dogs who use the park must have licenses, appropriate vaccinations and tests. They are also required to be spayed or neutered and owners must prove all information before being granted membership, she said. There will be two separate parts of the park -- one for smaller dogs and another for larger dogs.

Ms. Yoppolo said her group is fully committed to making the facility a success, without upsetting the neighborhood.

“We are going to work so hard to make this park a gem,” she said.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: kmclendon@theblade.com or 419-724-6522, or on Twitter @KMcBlade.



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