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Will Watkins get a new dog park?

WATKINS GLEN—Is a new dog park coming to Watkins Glen?
Watkins Glen resident Barbara Cook has proposed that a new dog park be developed at the Tank beach area (near Clute Park) in Watkins Glen. So far, the response she has received from a number of area dog owners about creating a park here has been pretty enthusiastic. “It provides a place for dogs to run off-leash safely,” she said.
Cook currently takes her dog to a park in Ithaca, which is where she got the idea to create one here in the village. Cook thinks the dog park could also help promote tourism to the area, by attracting more dog owners who travel with their dogs, rather than leaving them at home or placing them in a kennel. Many dog owners are willing to travel an extra distance to accommodate their dogs, she said.
The dog park will be completely fenced in and will have two gates. The first gate will lead to a “cool down area” where dogs will first enter the park on a leash, and will also exit and be placed back on a leash. The second gate will lead to a large area where many dogs can run unleashed and play with other dogs.
The care of the dogs will be the owner’s responsibility. Owners will also be in charge of cleaning up any messes their dogs make while in the park. However, she does have a list of volunteers who would be willing to clean up if an owner fails to do so. Cargill and Wegmans have already agreed to donate bags to clean these messes up. All Cook would need from the village is an extra garbage can by the entrance, for owners and volunteers to dispose of the bags.
She has consulted with the Watkins Glen Village Board about this proposed idea. Mayor Judy Phillips said it was “an interesting concept, worth looking into.” She also said that there would be a lot to look into such as insurance and a water supply for the dogs, so the park would be a process.
Cook said that in order to get water for the dogs a hose could just be run into the lake, or a hand pump well system could be put in place, that would filter the lake water. If an owner doesn’t want their dog drinking lake water then they will certainly be allowed to bring their own bottled water. Trustee Nicholas P. Kelly said the hand pump system would only cost about $1,000. “I’m not afraid of raising the money for that,” Cook said.
The village board thinks the optimal site for this dog park would be at Tank Beach which is farther east from Clute Park. There is a 20-30 foot gully that will eventually fill itself in according to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). A bridge could be built over the gully for the time being. This area also contains trees that will be of interest to many of the dogs who visit the park.
There will be plenty of parking for owners and dogs who visit the park in the parking lot at Clute Park. Cook said the dog park could even charge for parking to help cover costs of the park.
Cook knows that the process will not be quick, and is currently waiting on the village board to hear back from their insurance provider. “I am not asking for money,” Cook said. She hopes to raise money through donations and fund-raisers to cover all the costs of this dog park, which would include fencing and water costs.
Cook said she already has about 60 names of volunteers from Watkins Glen and Hammondsport who will be willing to help with the park. The beginning stages will take some work, but anyone interested in helping out can call Cook at 607-535-9398.

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