SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

March 6, 2013

Danvers dog park proponents chase town funding

BY ETHAN FORMAN
STAFF WRITER

---- — DANVERS — The Friends of Danvers Dog Park has run yard sales and comedy nights and sent out a mailing to licensed dog owners, all in an effort to raise money for a fenced-in place where pooches can run off-leash.

The group has brought in a good chunk of change, about $30,000, and it has two more fundraisers planned: a dog wash and an art auction. But the group is still short of the estimated $50,000 to $54,000 needed to build the park.

Now, some selectmen would like to help it out by including an article on the Town Meeting warrant to cover the difference.

“They have done a lot of fundraising, a tremendous amount,” said Selectman Bill Clark, who is advocating for the article with Selectman Keith Lucy.

However, the town’s budget is tight, with little left over for discretionary projects, so it remains to be seen if Town Manger Wayne Marquis will include the dog park on the warrant, Clark said. Selectmen can sponsor articles, and so can residents, but winning approval for them can be tricky.

The original plan was to fund the dog park with private donations, said Carla King, president of the Friends of Danvers Dog Park. But she has written to Marquis requesting that money for the dog park be included in the warrant.

At its regular meeting last night, the Friends unveiled a conceptual drawing from the architect, Manny Tavares of Danvers, showing what the park might look like. The group has been working since 2009 to build a dog park, and in 2011, a far corner of an overflow parking area at Endicott Park was picked as the site.

“We are also open and willing to listening to any and every idea to cut costs, raise money, etc.,” King wrote Marquis in an email.

Selectman Mike Powers said the group expects to raise $40,000, and the issue is whether to cover a portion of the park with a warrant article. Powers said he feels it would be best to get the project on the warrant to cover the difference, so that the project does not languish another six months to a year.

“We don’t want to wait another year,” King agreed.

There may be some confusion as to how much the group may need, Lucy said. Town requirements, such as benches and a taller fence, have had an effect on the bottom line. Lucy said the dog park is the type of project that the town should be donating to, given that much of the funding has been raised privately.

Fencing alone will cost about $29,000, King said. Lowering the height of the fence from 6 to 5 feet would save $5,000, she said. Deferring the installation of a water fountain would save about $4,000, though King said dogs need water on hot days. Two benches of the kind the town has specified would cost $3,500 apiece.

Tree clearing would cost about $9,000, King said, and the creation of a level path from the parking area to make the dog park handicapped-accessible would cost about $4,000. The group also has to pay for a new post and gate to keep cars out, at a cost of $1,500. The park will also need signs and a kiosk.

In the meantime, the group is planning a dog wash fundraiser on March 17 and an art auction on April 11.

Staff writer Ethan Forman can be reached at 978-338-2673, by email at eforman@salemnews.com or on Twitter at @DanverSalemNews.