By Zachary Manning
Bath-DeWitt Connection Staff Reporter
DEWITT — DeWitt is in the process of looking into adding a dog park to the city and the township. The project is mostly citizen-run, but local officials are reviewing comments from the public and working on leasing agreements. “It is a community-driven project, so there is a group of citizens that have been working with the township and the city,” said Rodney Taylor, DeWitt Charter Township manager. The dog park would be located at the front end of the Southern Clinton County Municipal Utilities Authority (SCCMUA) building on Herbison Road. The land for the park is not being utilized right now.
Dog parks have become very popular across Michigan with parks in or near Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids. Meridian Township could join the Lansing area with a dog park of its own. “East Lansing and Lansing both have dog parks.” Jane Greenway said. “There are also parks in Ann Arbor, Northville and Traverse City, just to name a few.”
Jane Greenway is parks and land management coordinator for Meridian Township as she heads the Meridian dog park front. Greenway explains that this has not been an easy process either.
Yoshi, Sandford, Junie and Jessie are among the few available furry-tailed animals up for adoption at the Capital Area Humane Society in Lansing. President and CEO of Capital Area Humane Society Julia Palmer said the staff places around 3,500 animals annually into homes. The ultimate goal is to promote the humane treatment of animals through protection, placement, education and example. Other than providing an individual with a new furry friend, services are Pets for the Elderly, spay or neuter procedures, behavior training and volunteer opportunities. In April, Capital Area Humane Society is teaming up with the Petsmart in Okemos to increase the chances of finding an animal a happy home. Visitors can pet felines and dogs 3:30- 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Offsite locations do help with adoptions. We are constantly trying to increase visibility for the animals at the shelter. Petsmart is one of the many avenues we use to accomplish that,” Palmer said. With pet adoption awareness on the rise, there have been some complaints that there is not a place specific to residents and their dogs in Meridian Township. Williamston resident Jamie Cripe and her labrador retriever mix Calypso love the idea for creating a dog park at Legg Park or anywhere in Okemos even. “We live in an apartment complex and while there is some space for dogs to play, it’s just sometimes not enough,” Cripe said. “Also, it’s great for dogs to be able to socially interact with other dogs and people, to have open grassy spaces to play, which the Soldan Park lacks,” she added.
Residents expressed concerns about the location for the future dog park at the March 15th township board meeting. The park is planned for Legg Park at 3891 Van Atta Road, just south of the Harris Nature Center. “I recognize the need for dogs to exercise and I don’t disagree with desires of those wanting to have a dog park. What I do disagree with is the location,” said resident James Kenyon, who lives near the park on Van Atta Road. The dog park is part of the township’s five-year parks and recreation plan.