Jacksonville could get $100K dog park through contest

By Gary Scott on May 12, 2015 at 7:44am

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard takes a picture with Jacksonville police officer Craig Wright and his police bike. Also pictured are Wright’s children and Alderman Steve Warmowski with his bike. Ezard declared next week to be Bicycle Safety Week in Jacksonville.

The City of Jacksonville is officially on board with an online contest to get a new dog park in the area.

The go-ahead was given during last night’s City Council workshop session to allow aldermen Marcy Patterson and Steve Warmowski to act in their official capacity in promoting the “Bark for Your Park” contest, which gives out a grand prize of $100,000 to the first-place community to construct the park.

Patterson says the Jacksonville Parks Foundation will take the lead on the contest.

“If tomorrow, someone brought to the City Council that they wanted to spend $100,000 of city money for a dog park, I would vote absolutely ‘no’, I don’t support a dog park,” says Patterson.

“However, I support the passion of this group of volunteers who want to do something for their animals, and I want to be a part of that.”

There was concern expressed by alderwoman Lori Large Oldenettel, who says she wants the city to have a long-term plan for city property.

“Whether we start with one park and we focus on it and figure out what makes sense or whether we do a survey for the city to find out what type of things our constituents want; there has been talk about splash pads, about tennis courts, about moving the pool into some different locations,” says Oldenettel.

“I just want the city to have a clear vision on what we want in various city land that we own.”

Oldenettel also notes money was requested for a dog park during a Parks and Lakes Committee meeting that was denied.

“The conversation that was in march was that we wanted to not do anything with the dog park at Veteran’s Park to expand it, that we wanted to begin to seek out constituent input and begin to [have] a vision for all of our parks,” she says.

“And six weeks later, now we’re voting for a dog park at a random location.”

Warmowski explained that a location wouldn’t have to be immediately chosen, and that if Jacksonville wins the contest and fails to select a home for the park by 2018, the money would automatically go to local animal shelters.

Jacksonville Mayor Andy Ezard noted there is plenty of land in the city to choose for a new dog park.

Jacksonville currently has a dog park located in Veteran’s Park, but it’s considered to be too small by some on the council. An unused area around Nichols Park had been suggested earlier this year.

There’s a planning meeting tonight at the Jacksonville Public Library at 7 p-m. Voting begins on Wednesday.

In other action last night, aldermen informally approved a request from the 4th of July Committee for $1,500 in sponsorship money. City Council approved borrowing $118,000 from city funds to finance the purchase of a fleet of golf carts for The Links course.

In addition, aldermen gave the green light to City Clerk Skip Bradshaw to extend the city’s loan agreement with Bank of Springfield for money borrowed to finance the original downtown renovation projects.

Bradshaw says there is about $85,000 left on the million-dollar loan, which he expects to be paid off by next March.

The first reading of an ordinance regarding an agreement with Mediacom was approved. The ordinance is a continuation of a previous arrangement to have Mediacom pay the city three percent of its annual gross revenues from cable bills.

A resolution was approved for an easement agreement with Reynolds Consumer Products. The $10,000 agreement will allow a water intake structure to be constructed for the new water treatment plant going up on Hardin Avenue.

Low bidders were announced for the annual Motor Fuel Tax maintenance program: Illinois Road Contractors and K.E. Vas Construction for respective totals of $174,000 and $228,000.

Ezard announced Jeff Hopkins as a replacement for resigned Ward 1 Alderman Adonnis Shaw. Hopkins works for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. We’ll have more on that story this afternoon.