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Dog lovers may get their own city park in New Richmond

The idea of establishing a dog park in New Richmond has been floating around for a few years, but it's getting closer to reality these days.

According to New Richmond Parks and Recreation Director Joe Kerlin, the city is considering the use of its old 11-acre landfill for a dog park.

"There's no place in the City of New Richmond where you can let a dog off its leash," Kerlin said. "In a dog park, they can run free for a while."

The suggested property, which is located east of the intersection of 185th Avenue and 115th Street, is safe for dog park use because the waste and garbage buried below is capped by clay, Kerlin said.

The city is working with the Department of Natural Resources to make sure the land can be used for a dog park. New Richmond's Pathways Committee is also involved in the dog park effort.

"This could be a good use of this land, since you can't do much else with it," Kerlin said. "Other cities have used old landfills for this purpose."

Kerlin said the DNR application process could take as long as three months to complete. The city also needs to talk to neighbors of the property to see if there are any objections to a dog park being located there, he added. The city, which owns the property that sits in the Town of Star Prairie, would also have to annex the land inside the community's boundaries.

If the idea proceeds forward, Kerlin said a driveway may be installed and a gravel parking area established for park users. A shelter might be erected on the site in the future, but the DNR would have to approve the construction of any structures on the property.

If a park is established, Kerlin said the Parks Department would mow the property regularly to provide a dog running trail around the perimeter of the plot.

A "Friends of the Dog Park" group would also be established to handle maintenance and policing of the park.

"The park is going to need some help in terms of maintenance," Kerlin said. "There's not going to be much in terms of city budget for it, so a citizens' group will need to be started. The volunteers would need to enforce the clean-up after dogs."

In other park news, Kerlin reported that the city is purchasing about .94 acres of land along Hatfield Lake from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation for $31.

The land, which is north of the vehicle entrance to Hatfield Park and runs along the lake, will be a nice addition to the community park, according to Kerlin.

"It's a really good deal," he said.

Plans call for the bicycle trail that runs along Highway 65 to be connected to a new trail section that will begin at the Hatfield Park entrance. That trail link then would follow along Hatfield Lake until it connects up with the Hatfield Lake trail toward the west.

Parks officials may also mow the land to create some additional "rough" campsites to the park. Kerlin said any money spent to add campsites would be recouped through camping fees charged during warm weather months.

"The campground pays for itself, with no help from tax dollars," he said.

The two parks issues will be further discussed at the next Parks Committee meeting slated for later in February.