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Township ponders dog park

Marie Havenga • Aug 18, 2017 at 12:00 PM

The Spring Lake Township Board is considering a new amenity for its canine constituents — a dog park at Rycenga Park.

Currently, dogs must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet while at the park, according to Township Manager Gordon Gallagher.

“We thought it might be nice to develop a dog park,” he said.

The only other dog parks in the area are at Central Park in Spring Lake, Coast Guard Park in Ferrysburg and East Grand River Park in Grand Haven.

The board is pondering a 160-by-110-foot fenced-in park, which would occupy about one-third of an acre. Fencing alone would cost about $8,500.

“There's some interest, but it's really just the beginning,” Gallagher said, adding that donations could be a possibility for some or all of the project.

Gallagher said a couple of residents have approached Township Supervisor John Nash about a potential dog park.

“I think John has been noodling on this for a while,” Gallagher said. “He has a real passion for Rycenga Park.”

Despite the leash regulations, some people let their dogs run free at Rycenga Park, the township manager said.

“We always worry about them going to the bathroom on the soccer field,” Gallagher said. “We don't worry too much about a dog on the pathway in the woods. We're trying to think through a measured approach. A dog park might be the answer.”

Gallagher, who is a dog owner, said he likes the idea.

“I think dog parks are becoming very popular,” he said. “People really enjoy them. If you have a small piece of property and want to take your dog somewhere to run, it can be a fun place.”

The socialization aspect is great — for both canines and community members.

“People get a chance to let their dogs get to know each other and the people can get to know each other,” Gallagher said. “For a lot of dog owners, their dogs are part of the family, so it's almost like taking a child to a playground. I think that's kind of the fun part of having a dog park. I think, over time, this idea will probably bear fruit.”

Gallagher said if the idea becomes reality, he hopes dog owners are willing to contribute to the project. And if the board is on board, he thinks a dog park could be in place as early as next spring.

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