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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  (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.

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  in . 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 in the at , and anyone interested in helping to organize and raise funds for the dog park is welcome to attend. 

Tanya June 08, 2012 at 05:10 PM
The gate is all put up and the maintence men have moved the lawn- all the debating really does not mean anything. The city has gone down hill and my children's education is falling short! I love my 3 dogs very much and 1 cat- I have a large yard that is fenced in to having my dogs. I am sorry that people are getting dogs that do not have the proper means to have a dog! There are parks all over this city that people walk their dogs, that is where you should go. Children doing b&e's and other crimes- the city should think about what do these children do after 6pm when the Costick Center/ John Grant closes? That property should have turned into a building to have a "hang-out" that is supervised with lots of activities; dances, basketball, etc.
Jim Sparks June 08, 2012 at 08:57 PM
Terry - "self-funding"? As in what, an admission fee? Who would administer that? Who would collect, account for and disburse such money? How would that be enforced? I am amused by those who take the notion that EVERYTHING can and must "pay for itself" or make a monetary profit. They place absolutely NO value on anything intangible. It just doesn't work that way - never has, never will. "You get what you pay for" is probably the operative phrase here...there's no such thing as a free lunch. Why isn't Heritage Park, or Shiawassee Park "self-funding"? Because setting up turnstiles at every corner of the community is hardly appealing, nor practical. Again, I don't use our parks much at all, yet I'm fine with contributing to their purchase and upkeep as they are amenities available to the entire community, thereby making it a better place to live for everyone. You however, seem to want a Chinese menu approach, where you pick and choose only what YOU find worthy, and everyone else can take a flying leap. A little advice: Buy yourself an island with that massive nest egg you must have built up with your "superior" fiscal regimen...then you won't have to fret over giving even a little bit of it to anyone at all. And you could make up your own rules, like "NO DOGS ALLOWED!!!" I'm sure you'd think it's HEAVEN.
marilyn lennis June 12, 2012 at 05:08 PM
How much is the new William Grace Dog park going to cost our taxpayers? THE COST( from what I have gleaned from local newspapers: $1.00 lease per year $10,000 cost of the fence and gate system Is there really any new insurance costs for the city? The City of Farmington Hills has liability insurance for the vast park system, including Heritage Park, Woodland Hills Nature Park, the FH Golf Course, the Riley Skate Park, all of the Sports Parks and now the Dog Park. I would also think that Farmington Hills has lawyers on staff for consultation and to handle legal issues. THE FEES: The resident fee for the dogpark is $30 for the 1st dog and $10 for each additional dog. Talking to the Staff at the Costick Center, HUNDREDS have called to sign up for the orientation meeting. At this time, one knows how much in fees will be collected for the dog park, however, let's assume 300 residents pay the $30 annual fee for one dog. Of that 300, 75 residents pay an additional $10. for a second dog. The math: 300 x $30 = $9000 and 75 x $10 =750. $9000. + $750.= $9750 in fees for the 1st year. The fees would pay the $1 lease and almost all the fence/gate cost. So, to all the curmudgeons who keep complaining about the costs of this modest park...it appears the park will be self funded. GO FIND ANOTHER LOCAL ISSUE TO GRIPE ABOUT!
Soudian June 13, 2012 at 04:19 AM
I would like to see the dog park if (and only if) it is self funded. I would think that asking for donations or seeking sponsorship would be something that the city could do to help offset costs associated in the upkeep, insurance and other ongoing costs. Tax money is something that is best used for needed items and not on luxury items such as this. Dogs, Cats and other household pets also are something that if one can not afford should not be kept. Where are we going to draw the line will we be paying for cat parks, what about reptiles, fish and other pets... are we discriminating against those pet owners. Government can not continue to spend TAX PAYER money on needless things period. Dog owners should pony up the money needed to fund this project and on going expense.
marilyn lennis June 20, 2012 at 04:22 PM
I Went to the required orientation meeting on Monday night. What I learned: each dog owner is responsible for their own dogs behavior and must sign the City of Farmington Hills Waiver & Release for use of Dog Park. In short it releases The City of Farmington from lawsuits resulting activities in the dog park. It places the responsibility on the individual dog owners . Also, the park is very well planned with a large dog area & a small dog area. The entire park has fencing and the double gate allows dogs & owners to enter in a controlled manner. Each dog owner must show vaccine records & Rabies Certificate for each dog. (3 maximum per household). The annual Dog Park fees are $30 for the first dog & $10 for each additional dog. The rules & regulations are numerous to ensure the safety of people, dogs and to respect the neighbors around the park. Paws in the Hills is to be congratulated on a job well done! Thank you! Thank you ! Thank you for the countless hours that the volunteers of Paws in the Hills put in to make this a reality. Ribbon cutting is next Monday, June 25th.

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