Janesville45.9°

Park plan has bite

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Stacy Vogel
January 30, 2008
— The land next to Milton Propane used to be known as “that big woods full of grass,” Ryan Peterson said.

Today, it’s known as “the Milton dog park,” although an official name is still to come.


But when completed, the park will be more than a dog park, said Peterson, chairman of the Crossridge Park Committee that is organizing the effort. It has already drawn the community together and when completed will offer alternative forms of recreation and preserve an area of natural beauty, he said.


The community has been discussing a dog park for eight years, ever since the city started plans for Crossridge Park on Highway 26. But it became clear about a year ago that the city would have to abandon plans for a dog park at Crossridge if it wanted to work with the YMCA to develop the area.


Instead, dog park supporters turned their vision to 18 acres along Vincent Street and West High Street. They already have mapped out a plan for the park that includes two fenced areas, parking lots, trails, a playground and possibly a dog agility course.


The city launched a fundraising campaign late last year and has raised more than $16,000.


The land doesn’t look like much now. Bare trees surround a patch of hilly land covered in snow. In the center, tall plants poke out from a marshy area that used to be a pond.


But the spot is perfect for a dog park, Peterson said. There’s plenty of space for dogs to run around, and the trees provide a natural sanctuary.


Plus, the land is designated an environmental conservancy by the city, meaning it can’t be built on anyway.


Supporters want to enhance the spot’s natural beauty by planting wildflowers similar to the 6 acres it planted in Crossridge Park, Peterson said. They already have an acre’s worth of seed ready to plant in the spring.


The environmental aspect is one of the things that attracted Carol Stiff to the effort, she said. Stiff moved to Milton in October 2006 and got involved in the dog park effort a few months ago.


She runs a business, Kitchen Culture Kits, teaching people how to create plant cultures in homes and classrooms. She’s hoping to offer a local class in February and donate the profits to the dog park effort.


But what attracted Stiff to the dog park most was the sense of community she has found from participating in a local project, she said. Plus, she’s excited about giving her three dogs a place to run.


“Milton’s a nice place, so if I can do something for it, that’s great,” she said.


Lynda Clark also senses a community forming.


“I love dogs, and I know that there is a group of people in town and in the area in general that those are their babies,” she said.


Clark once chaired the Crossridge committee and continues to participate in meetings and fund-raisers. She hopes a nice dog park can attract out-of-town visitors and offer an activity for people who don’t participate in traditional recreation such as sports.


“The city is growing very rapidly, and we need to have more, different venues for quality-of-life entertainment,” she said.


Peterson hopes the park will attract not just dog owners but joggers, families and people looking for a nice view. If the park includes a dog agility course, it could host exhibitions and attract even more people, he said.


The group now has enough money to fence in a large area for dogs, which it hopes to do before Memorial Day, he said.


But Peterson’s vision doesn’t stop there. He and others have all kinds of plans to improve the park and, after that, the rest of the city.


Peterson dreams of a city that has islands of commerce surrounded by park space, instead of the other way around.


“I don’t see anything setting us back,” he said.


TO LEARN MORE
For more information about the Milton dog park, visit the park’s MySpace page at www.myspace.com/miltondogpark, or the city’s Web site at www.ci.milton.wi.us

dogpark.aspx.


To contact Chairman Ryan Peterson, call (608) 868-9896 or e-mail write2ryanpeterson@hotmail.com.
To contact Carol Stiff about her plant culture class, a fund-raiser for the dog park, call (608) 302-2750 or e-mail kck@turbonet.com.

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