Volunteers partnering with Violet Township to open Fairfield County's first public dog park have asked the city of Pickerington to contribute to the project.

Volunteers partnering with Violet Township to open Fairfield County's first public dog park have asked the city of Pickerington to contribute to the project.

The Friends of Violet Township Dog Park is about $5,000 to $7,000 short of its goal to raise half the money needed for a dog park at the corner of Pickerington and Stamen roads and has asked the city of Pickerington to help fill the gap.

Group president Carolyn Adams said July 20 the volunteer group has raised approximately $38,540 of the $42,000 to $45,000 it needs for its share of the dog park.

"Most of the money raised has come from Pickerington city residents or residents living very close to the city, and businesses in the city, or businesses very close to the city," Adams said. "We believe the city will benefit very greatly from the dog park. Therefore, I'm asking the city to consider very seriously a donation to the dog park."

For the better part of two years, the roughly 45-member volunteer group has sought to bring a dog park to the community.

The effort was substantially bolstered when township officials last year agreed to provide about 2.3 acres for the park, and committed to fund approximately half of the construction for the project.

Since then, the price tag has wavered. Originally, it was projected to be $100,000, but subsequent estimates rose to $110,000 before recent design revisions lowered the overall cost.

Now, Adams said, the total cost for the project is expected to be $84,000.

"The parks are well-used and often, people who are looking to buy a house in the area ask about a dog park," she said.

City officials in February gave their blessing to the project when council unanimously approved legislation permitting the dog park's construction. Although it is on township land, city council approval was needed because Pickerington governs land uses in the incorporated and unincorporated portions of Violet Township.

City approvals also were required because the 8.9 acres on which the dog park will be located are designated as a planned restricted industrial district.

However, it remains to be seen if the city will provide a financial donation to the project.

City manager Bill Vance, who started work in Pickerington on July 1, noted the city did not provide for dog park funds in its 2010 budget.

He also said city taxpayers already are contributing to the project because they pay taxes to Violet Township.

"That request is going to be directed to the budget process," Vance said last week. "We currently don't have it in our budget because the request was made at the midpoint of the fiscal year.

"The township was very generous in agreeing to fund half of this project, but the fact is, everybody in the city pays township taxes," Vance said. "We appreciate the services we get for the taxes we pay, but the additional $5,000 would come from the same people in the city who contributed to the original $45,000 pledge from the township."

Vance added that the city will consider the request as part of its overall 2011 budget.

"I'm not saying it's a good idea and I'm not saying it's a bad idea," he said. "We just don't have it in the budget, so I'm directing the request for the budget process for next year."

Plans for the dog park call for erecting a 54-inch fence around its perimeter. Plans also call for a dog water fountain, up to 19 trees, an asphalt path, a wheelchair-accessible parking area and a wealth of greenspace where canines can romp off-leash.

Adams lauded the community for its support of the project and said there will be a recognition board at the entrance. All those who donated $500 or more will be recognized by name, according to levels of support.

She added her group still hopes to open the park this fall.

Bill Yaple, Violet Township director of operations, said the opening could get pushed back to next spring.

"The park was seeded about 75 days ago and, at this time, there has been no other construction," he said. "To me, it looks like next spring."

In the meantime, Adams said her group continues to solicit private donations.

Information about the park and contributing to its construction can be found online at www.vtdogpark.org, or by e-mailing Adams at violettwpdogpark@sbcglobal.net.

Donations can be mailed to Friends of Violet Township Dog Park, P.O. Box 565 Pickerington, Ohio 43147.