A dog park or a disc golf course?
It’s the choice Keene city councilors will consider in the coming weeks after two local groups come up with different uses for the same land in Wheelock Park.
In the spring, the town was approached by the Keene Disc Golf Club, which hopes to use the old Wheelock Park campground – which closed in 2018 due to low attendance – to build a second disc golf course that would be friendlier than the organization’s existing course at Otter Brook State Park. Then, last month, the town received a request from Rebecca Lancaster, who represents a group of people who have been trying for years to build a dog park in Keene, to consider letting them use the campsite space for this. end.
On Wednesday, the two groups addressed the council’s municipal services, facilities and infrastructure committee to explain why they believe the land should be used for their project. The committee voted unanimously (with the exception of Councilor Bryan Lake, an active member of the disc golf group who recused himself) to place the colon on “more time”. This will allow more information to be gathered before the panel makes a decision.
“The only thing we need from both is really a design and their nonprofits. [to serve as fiscal agents]Said Andy Bohannon, director of parks, recreation and facilities at Keene.
Bohannon worked with the two groups to explore the possibility of using the site and said both ideas are conducive to the space available at Wheelock Park, located off Park Avenue. He said that although the disc golf proposal is relatively new, efforts to establish a dog park in Keene have been underway for a long time.
Lancaster, a member of the Keene board of directors who currently leads the dog parks initiative, told the committee on Wednesday that a petition supporting the project has garnered more than 600 signatures. The location 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 them. property owners nearby, which has been a concern in previous conversations about a dog park in other locations.
“The advantages of having a dog park are that there really aren’t any others locally in nearby or adjacent towns,” Lancaster told the committee. “In fact, I was surprised when I moved here that there isn’t an established dog park in a city 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.
Several people spoke at Wednesday’s meeting in favor of the dog park proposal. One of them, Rebecca Cloud, said she thought it was a great idea and would help address concerns about people walking their dogs on bike paths or letting them run in fields. open.
“Part of the problem with this is just that people have nowhere for their dogs to run and release their energy and play,” she said. “And I think having a dog park is kind of a fun gathering, where people can take their dogs somewhere and let them relax, run, play and burn off some energy. And it will not interfere with the public.
Meanwhile, Robert Johnson, of the Keene Disc Golf Club, said a course would work well for other park activities and the group would take care of all the ongoing maintenance required at the facility, as it does at Otter Brook. He also said the place would be a less difficult course than Otter Brook, making it more family friendly.
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, also known as Frisbee golf.
“As successful as Otter Brook has been, one thing that is not suitable for beginners,” 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.”
He added that the club will be committed to designing the course and raising funds to build it and install signage, adding that he is confident the group has the financial resources to fill the fundraising gap. . If all goes in the group’s favor, he said, a completion date in the spring is “very doable.”
Committee advisers expressed interest in both proposals, but agreed they needed more information before making a decision. Councilor Andrew Madison pointed to Living Memorial Park in Battleboro, where he said a disc golf course and a dog park are operated at the same facility.
Lancaster suggested that a dog park might be more popular than a disc golf course, saying a larger portion of the community could benefit. But she added that she would be willing to find a way to share the space if possible.
“There are a few more acres out there than the dog park needs,” she said. “So I would love to have the chance to sit down together and think and see if there is a way to make this space work for both groups. “