Janesville72°

Alliant proposal delaying dog park

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Stacy Vogel
June 1, 2008
— Until a few weeks ago, Ryan Peterson thought Milton’s dog park would be open for business by Memorial Day.

But plans to install a fence in the park on Milton’s southwest side came to a halt when the Ad-hoc Crossridge Park Committee, the group planning the dog park, learned about a proposal from Alliant Energy to buy land in the park.


“It’s very frustrating,” said Peterson, the committee chairman. “We told people we were going to be started by now.”


Alliant, in conjunction with American Transmission Company, hopes to buy land to expand its substation along West High Street as part of its $8.4 million, five-year “Power Milton” project. The expanded substation, along with upgraded facilities throughout Milton, will increase service reliability and prepare the area for future growth, said Steve Schultz, an Alliant spokesman.


The company is in talks with the city to buy “a very small area” of land currently slated to be part of the dog park, said Todd Schmidt, city administrator.


Neither Schmidt nor Schultz could say exactly how much land Alliant is looking to buy. Judging by a map from American Transmission Company, the proposed expansion would take a few acres of city land, including about an acre of the planned 15-acre fenced area for large dogs, Peterson said.


That’s an acre too much for Jeanne Rowland, a dog park supporter and contributor.


She’s already concerned about the designated dog park site because a lot of it is covered in trees or water, she said.


“It seems like (the substation expansion) is just eating—a small portion, granted—but that’s just eating into the land that’s dry and usable,” she said.


Peterson can see the bright side of the proposed expansion, he said. As the city negotiates with Alliant, the committee will have more time to carve trails, thin trees and clear brush before the fence goes in, he said. Plus, money from the potential land sale could help complete the park.


So far, the dog park committee has raised almost $20,000 and is waiting to hear about a $10,000 grant, Peterson said. That would give it enough for phase one of the projects—fenced areas for large and small dogs.


Phase two—a dog agility course, playground equipment and a blacktopped driveway—would cost between $15,000 and $20,000, he said.


But Rowland believes any money from the sale of dog park land—even if it’s more than $20,000—should go to the dog park, she said.


“There are more than enough needs in the dog park that would utilize any money that would be given to it,” she said. “There’s land that could be cleared, there’s land that could be leveled, there’s land that could be filled in.”


Alliant still needs to go through the approval process for a substation expansion, including obtaining a property survey, conditional use permit, sales contract, development agreement and approved site plan, Schmidt said. He guessed it would be at least a couple of months before the issue comes before the city council.


The dog park probably won’t be fenced until the city makes a decision about the Alliant proposal, but volunteers will continue raising money and preparing the site, Peterson said.


Whatever happens, Milton remains “fully committed to completion of the dog park this summer/fall,” Schmidt wrote in an e-mail to The Janesville Gazette.


But Rowland isn’t sure if she will continue to support the park, she said.


“I do really want to see this happen in some way,” she said. “I just really want it to be of a quality nature, something we can all be proud of.”



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