An effort to develop a dog park in the largest city in western Massachusetts is moving forward with advocates hoping to secure money for a feasibility study.
An ad hoc committee of the Springfield City Council is planning to apply for $75,000 through the Community Preservation Act to identify a possible location for a dog park, estimate the cost to construct it, and also measure community support for a place where dogs could exercise and socialize off-leash.
Noticing the popularity of dog parks in places like East Longmeadow, Agawam, Northampton and Holyoke, City Councilor Orlando Ramos created the Dog Park Committee when he was Council President in 2018. He now chairs the committee.
"Its process," said Ramos. " It is not just a matter of constructing a dog park where ever we want. It is a fairly long process."
The ad hoc committee consists of several dog owners and representatives from the city’s parks department, animal control operations, and health department.
Ramos said several possible sites for a dog park in Springfield have been discussed by the committee but there has been no consensus reached.
"Ideally, we would like to use land the city already owns, but that is something that will be identified through the feasibility study," said Ramos.
Based on preliminary applications submitted in March, the Dog Park Committee’s will be one of more than two dozen requests for funding this year through the Springfield Community Preservation Act.
There is an estimated $1.6 million available in the fund, according to Community Preservation Committee Chairman Bob McCarroll.
"We don't give any one project more than $250,000 in any one funding cycle, so we do have a cap," said McCarroll.
Applications for this year’s round of CPA funding were due to be dropped off at City Hall, or mailed by Friday (May 3).
"Last year we had requests that were three-times the amount we had available, and this year, I think, we may be even higher than that," said McCarroll.
McCarroll said meetings will be held with the applicants in May and June and the committee will begin its deliberations in July with a goal to make recommendations to the City Council in September.
The funds for the Community Preservation Act come from a surcharge on local property tax bills. There is also money distributed to participating municipalities statewide from fees collected by the Registry of Deeds.
To be eligible for funding, projects must involve creating or retaining open space and recreation land, historic preservation, or community housing.