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Watkins hears about dog park, soccer field conditions

    WATKINS GLEN—The Watkins Glen village board heard from residents offering suggestions on how to best use the public space in Clute Park at their regular meeting held on Monday, Feb. 6.
    Barbara Cook urged the board to consider establishing a dog park on the lake side of the park, while Mark Stephany spoke to trustees about the poor condition of the soccer field adjacent to the community center.  The board also postponed its vote to formally approve the event application for the Seneca Lake Wine & Food event that is tentatively scheduled for this summer. Mayor Mark Swinnerton was not in attendance and Trustee Scott Gibson led the meeting in his absence.
    The dog park suggested by Cook involves enclosing an area at the eastern end of Clute Park with fencing. “There is a need in our town for dogs to have a place of their own,” said Cook, “socialization is a huge thing for a dog.”  Gibson expressed concerns about liability, waste and impacting other uses of the park. Cook explained that opening a dog park should help to cut down on waste around the village as people will hopefully congregate at the park, to the point the village could even forbid dogs at Lafayette Park.  She went on to say that the more dogs are socialized the less the chance they will lash out at people or other animals. As for the liability, Cook read a list of proposed rules designed to make the park safe for animals and people, which includes a provision that owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs.
    The board did not take any official action regarding the dog park. Gibson said that the board is in the process of developing plans for the village and that a dog park could possibly fit into that picture. Gibson then asked about the size, expected number of users, and seasonal nature of the park.  “There are a lot of particulars to work out,” explained Gibson. The parties will touch base again at a later time to continue discussing the feasibility of a dog park. Cook had approached the village board in 2010 with a petition requesting a dog park.  She operates the Salty Dog Rescue Team, an animal rescue based in Watkins Glen.
    Mark Stephany also approached the board with his concerns regarding the management of the soccer fields located at Clute Park.  Stephany explained that there was a time when the fields were usable and were utilized by youth leagues and adults alike. However, Stephany said after Cargill installed a well nearby, the condition degraded substantially.  He said the village attempted to put down top soil and Cargill spread grass seed, but the measures didn’t help the problem.  Stephany said the field is now mostly rocks, which he added is unfortunate.
    The board considered the final application filed by the organizers of the Seneca Lake Wine & Food event. Trustee Kevin Smith noted that the application had not yet been approved by village department heads.  “The whole purpose [of the application process] is for department heads to sign off,” said Smith, “to approve this now would defeat the whole purpose.”  No members of the board expressed any material concerns about the application.  The vote was tabled so that the document could be circulated and approved by each department.



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