A dog park that had been planned for Liberty Park could be in jeopardy after the president and treasurer of the Hillsboro Dog Park Association said at Monday’s city council meeting that the association was disassociating itself from the city, and also wants $5,000 back it donated to the project.
Ken Rentz, the dog park president, said he had a heated discussion with Mayor Drew Hastings earlier Monday afternoon about the dog park.
“This is to inform you that because of Stantec and the city’s insistence on erecting a substandard fence as part of the dog park project initiated by the Hillsboro Dog Park Association, irreconcilable differences on how the association funds and state grant funds are being allocated, and breaking of the basic agreement with the Hillsboro Dog Park Association, notice is hearby given that the Hillsboro Dog Park Association is disassociating itself from all aspects of the dog park project co-opted by the city of Hillsboro and Stantec Eng., including any offers, real or implied, as to the operation of said park,” Rentz wrote in a letter that he delivered to council members. “As part of this severance with the city and Stantec Eng., the Hillsboro Dog Park Association will retain the rights to, and restricts Stantec Eng. and the city of Hillsboro from using any and all materials, including plan drawings, originating with the Hillsboro Dog Park Association, and wants a prompt return (three business days) of the $5,000 given to the city of Hillsboro for the dog park project.”
According to Rentz, he helped obtain a $49,300 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources that the city would have to come up with 25 percent in matching funds for.
The city planned to use for the money for the dog park, plus a new pavilion and some signage at Liberty Park.
Rentz said that his issues with the city proposal for a dog park includ fence posts that would be drove into the ground rather than being set in concrete, the city hiring an outside firm to engineer the project, and a lack of appropriate water stations in the design.
“I was hoping council would have some type of influence over a closed mind,” Rentz said at the meeting in reference to Hastings.
Hillsboro Safety and Service Director Todd Wilkin said Stantec was brought in to engineer the project because there was more to it than a dog park. He said the city has good track record with Stantec and that the firm may be aware of grant stipulations that Rentz is not aware of.
“It’s interesting to me that the project has imploded on one aspect – concrete,” Wilkin said.
Wilkin said the city would have to go to the ODNR and see if the dog park could be pulled from the grant project and maybe some other park improvements added.
But council member Ann Morris said she was concerned because council told the city’s citizens that it was pursuing a dog park and that $5,000 had been donated to it.
Hastings said he had no problem with the council approaching the dog park from a different angle, but that he did not want to expose to city officials to having to work with Lentz.
In the end, councilman Dick Donley, who was acting as council president in the absence of Lee Koogler, turned the matter over to council’s Community Enhancement Committee, which he said would hold a public meeting on the issue in the future.
During his mayor’s report, Hastings said, “I’ve gotten a lot of comments from people who are saying our city hasn’t looked this good in years. So some of that is in part due to our code enforcement officer, Phillip Lutton.”
The mayor also said he’s received preliminary draft findings on a hotel feasibility study the city contracted for and that it looks promising.
Wilkin reported that Sharma Nartker had been selected as the employee of the month.
He said the city received bids on a sidewalk pilot program and that the pilot block is located in the 200 block of East Walnut, South East, South High and East South streets. He said residents in those areas will receive letters describing the program and how the work will be performed.
Wilkin said the city is working to finalize changes in the water and sewer rates based on multi-users. He said the legislation doesn’t go into effect until later this month and letters are being sent out to property owners to notify them of the changes.
He also said the city walked through the Colony Theatre recently with a demolition contractor and is still waiting on revised numbers that would include the demolition of the entire structure.
“On a final note, as you are aware, the city received a grant from Interact for Health. This grant is a planning grant for the development of a bike trail along Moberly’s Creek that runs along Northview Drive and runs to Shaffer Park,” Wilkin said. “As part of the planning grant and development of the design we must have public meetings to discuss ideas of the bike path. We will announce the date and time, but expect the first meeting to occur in the first few weeks of July.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.