After two groups set their sights on space in the old Wheelock Park campground – one seeking to build a dog park and the other seeking to create a new disc golf course – Keene crosses a new step towards a solution that could integrate the two ideas.
The city council’s municipal services, facilities and infrastructure committee voted on Tuesday to use the city’s capital improvement program funds to develop a plan that includes both proposals. Parks, Recreation and Facilities Manager Andy Bohannon, who worked with the two groups to determine if the campground is a good fit for their plans, asked the committee to recommend that City Manager Elizabeth Dragon be allowed to spend those funds, which he said were free to be reallocated.
âI envision that we will have a public participation process; both groups are going to be heavily involved in this design, âBohannon said of the plan. “And that’s really the best way to move forward with these two groups, and the city is going to have a win-win.”
Bohannon said in a note to the committee, included in the agenda for Tuesday’s meeting, that the money could be used to hire a landscaping consultant. He said this would help better understand the combined needs of the city and groups wishing to use the campground space, and give stakeholders an idea of ââthe cost of the projects.
The push for a dog park in Keene is not new, and the initiative has been going on for years, led by different people at different times. Last month, Rebecca Lancaster, a member of Keene’s board of directors who currently runs the dog park project, told the MSFI committee that a petition supporting the project has garnered more than 600 signatures.
The location next to Park Avenue is ideal for a dog park, she said, as it is close to Wheelock Park amenities such as restrooms and parking, but far enough from the nearest house to avoid any problems for nearby landowners, which has been a concern in the past. conversations about a dog park at other locations.
âThe advantages of having a dog park are that there really aren’t any others locally in nearby or adjacent towns,â Lancaster told the committee. âIn fact, I was surprised when I moved here that there isn’t an established dog park in a town of this size. It is therefore a safe space for community members to exercise and socialize their dogs. It’s a great convenience … something else Keene could offer to attract families and young professionals and others to the area.
Meanwhile, Robert Johnson of the Keene Disc Golf Club said last month that the goal of their project was to build a course that would be a bit more accessible than the more advanced course the club operates at Otter Brook. He said a disc golf course would be a great fit for other park activities and that the group would take care of any ongoing maintenance required at the facility, as it does at Otter Brook State Park.
Otter Brook’s course has performed well, Johnson said, attracting players from all over New England. But he said it’s not always suitable for young players or those just learning the game.
âAs successful as Otter Brook has been, one thing that is not suitable for beginners,â Johnson said. “The lack of off-season access, elevation changes and sometimes rugged topography can be overwhelming for new players, and that’s where Wheelock comes in.”
In addition to helping establish the feasibility of both the dog park and the disc golf course, Bohannon said the concept plan would also give the city a roadmap for using the space for generations. future.
Councilor Bobby Williams suggested that if the dog park was not functioning in the old campground, a fenced area near the Robin Hood Park Amphitheater might also be a suitable location. He said it wouldn’t take a lot of work to create a small dog park there.
At last month’s meeting, Lancaster told councilors she would be willing to come up with a plan to share space with space with the disc golf course. On Tuesday, councilor Randy Filiault asked Bohannon if this would be possible.
âThere’s a good chance that will happen,â Bohannon told the committee. âThere is also another chance that this is not the case. But we’ll find out.
The committee’s recommendation will then go to the full board for further consideration.