Farmington Hills Dog Park Saga Has Happy Ending
Officials approve a lease agreement to create the park on the former William Grace Elementary School property.
After years of waiting, Farmington Hills dog owners will soon have a park to call their own.
City officials on Monday unanimously approved a lease agreement with Farmington Public Schools (FPS) for use of the former William Grace Elementary School property, at 29040 Shiawassee. School officials approved the agreement March 6.
The city will pay $1 per year for the lease, Whinnery said, and any improvements will be modest.
"We're going to keep that investment at a reasonable cost, in case we have to pack up and move it," he said.
Plans laid out by volunteers would leave in place a playground that was left standing after William Grace Elementary was demolished last summer, along with three other FPS buildings.
Assistant city attorney Dana Whinnery said while residents have long wanted a dog park, "the issues have always been location ... and, actually, cost."
The demand led officials in 2010 to consider creating a dog park on the east side of Farmington Hills Ice Arena in Founders Sports Park. Dog owners said the 1-acre space was too small, and city officials countered they could not afford to purchase a larger property. Council members challenged residents in January of last year to work together on solutions.
The topic heated up again after city officials proposed leasing the William Grace property. In a Jan. 16 memo to FPS board members, assistant superintendent Dave Ruhland said the district had "good reason" to make the property available, as officials await the results of a facilities study that will help determine whether the property will be needed.
"While providing a resource for the community, even if on a temporary basis, the District would be relieved of the responsibility for maintaining the property as well as insuring the property," he wrote.
The park is expected to be ready for use in late spring. In the meantime, Paws for the Hills volunteers are meeting on Thursday, 7:30 p.m., in the Nature Discovery Center at Heritage Park, and anyone interested in helping to organize and raise funds for the dog park is welcome to attend.