Resident asks city to consider dog park for Nevada

Marlys Barker

Nearby Ames has a dog park, so why can’t Nevada get one?

Olivia Logsdon spoke to the City Council Monday about the idea of having a dog park in Nevada. Mary Ann Fleshman came along to show support.

Logsdon shared a variety of comments about the possibility for a dog park and said when the idea was posted on Facebook, many people agreed that it would be a good idea. Logsdon said a dog park is a great place for residents who can’t afford a fenced-in yard for their pets. She said a dog park also has benefits of letting a dog run loose in a bigger area to play and get exercise, and it allows dogs and pet owners to socialize.

She proposed that possibly the land behind and between McDonald’s and Bacon Funeral Home, near the SCORE Park, could be a location for putting in two dog park areas — one for bigger dogs and one for smaller dogs.

As for who could take care of and maintain the park, she hoped Nevada Parks and Rec could do that, but that mostly, residents using the park would take care of things themselves. “It would be really easy because dogs aren’t messy like kids,” she said.

Logsdon pointed out that Ames has a number of rules and requirements, which Nevada would want to duplicate, like making sure dogs are neutered and have their vaccinations up to date; making sure dog handlers are at least 16 years old; not allowing kids in without an adult; making sure dogs are at least 4 months of age and never leaving a dog unattended; not allowing any human food in the park; etc. “A lot of it is just basic safety,” Logsdon said.

She said that there is a fee to pay to use the Ames park for the year, and if you aren’t an Ames resident, that fee is $15 higher than it is for those living there. To avoid paying a greater fee in Ames, and because the drive time to get there isn’t always easy for dogs, Logsdon wishes that she could enjoy a dog park in Nevada. “You have parks for humans, why not parks for dogs?”

Councilman Ray Schwichtenberg asked about the liability concerns the city would face if it opened such a park. City Counsel Erin Clanton said there would always be liability for the city if they are the owner of the park; however, she said her law firm has worked with other cities to navigate through a lot of the wording and issues of having a dog park.

City Administrator Elizabeth Hansen asked Logsdon to leave her information with the city so they could share it with the parks and recreation board and with the city’s police department, who deals with animal control issues. The city would then wait to hear what those entities recommend.

Wellness Center questions

Wes Hubbard, owner of Fitness AdvantEdge in Nevada, was present to speak to the council about the proposals and study of building a city wellness/recreation center.

Hubbard is actually a member of the task force studying the issue, which arose as a proposal out of the vision plans for the city’s future. But Hubbard said, “I seem to be a minority on the task force; you have a group of people on the force who are uniquely positioned to support the wellness center,” but Hubbard as a private fitness center owner said he’s not totally comfortable with what the wellness center might become.

“I’ve raised concerns before,” Hubbard said, “when I felt that the city was competing with our business.”

Hubbard said initially he understood that a recreation facility for the city would simply be more gym space for basketball and such. But he said when he asked the parks and rec directors about whether this facility might eventually include fitness equipment, they didn’t give him an answer. That didn’t sit well with Hubbard, whose fitness center is one of several private businesses in the community that offer a variety of fitness equipment and make their money through memberships and class fees.

“I believe that my personally funded gym competing with a tax-funded facility is unfair,” he said.

Councilman Andy Kelly said this idea concerns him as well, and he believes the city has to be careful not to compete with its private businesses. Councilman Schwichtenberg agreed that he’s always understood that the recreation facility would be about gym space, because the city has a need for more gym space. Councilman Brian Hanson said it was his understanding that such a facility wasn’t going to have weights or cardio equipment, unless those were things being used for the hospital’s rehabilitation patients.

Parks and Recreation Director Tim Hansen said discussions of the task force studying the recreation facility are in their infant stage, so he said it’s hard for his department to know exactly what such a facility might or might not include. Hansen said he understands Hubbard’s concern. He also said that there are more entities involved in planning the facility than just the city.

Brett Barker, who is chairing the wellness center committee, said the timeline calls for a feasibility study to take place in the coming year, and depending on how that goes, maybe a capital campaign would start in 2017, with a facility being built in 2018. Barker said the language the task force has been working with identifies that they want to “complement” existing businesses, not “compete” with them. Barker said the use of the word wellness, which Hubbard has said he takes issue with, is probably coming more from the medical center’s involvement and the terminology that they use.

Since the discussions are in their infancy stages, Hubbard said he wanted to make it clear at this time that he doesn’t want the city supporting the creation of anything that will compete with his business. If they wanted a place with fitness equipment, Hubbard said, “they should have done that 15 years ago,” before his business and others came to town.

Councilman Jim Walker asked that the council be updated as the discussions for the wellness/recreation center move forward.