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home : opinions : letters to the editor August 17, 2017

3/4/2017 7:29:00 AM
Reader disappointed with dog park decision

To the editor:

When did Pioneer Park become a private park? I thought it was a public park all these years!

I wasn't alone in my thinking, either. On Feb. 13, the City Council chamber was filled to capacity with Rhinelander citizens who, for the most part, were optimistic and enthusiastic as we anticipated that the City Council would finally, after 10 years of discussion and research, give approval for its first dog park to be located in the small area at the south end of Pioneer Park where there currently is a "dog-walking area".

The parks committee, chaired by Sherrie Belliveau, was known to be in favor of this proposal prior to this meeting on Monday evening, and she gave a solid report.

Tina Taege Werres, a lifelong resident of Rhinelander known for her tireless dedication to establishing a dog park here, was present to address concerns.

She has done her research well and obviously knows of what she speaks. Spencer Insolia, president of Drs. Foster and Smith/Petco confirmed a five-figure donation and support that the company is willing to contribute. One cannot forget that there is also a wonderful but anonymous Rhinelander citizen who donated $10,000 to the endeavor. Nicolet College mapped the area and their drawing was on display for the meeting. The people who filled City Hall in support of the proposal spoke with their presence (policy and procedure allowed only Werres and Insolia to speak verbally at the meeting). Hopefully the council members noted that enthusiasm on the part of citizens who came out on a Monday evening.

Disappointingly, three naysayers from Oneida Avenue (three out of 15 households who live alongside the park and who were allowed to speak at this meeting) stood up and displayed self-serving interests in not having the dog park at Pioneer Park. They were supported by two extremely negative council members, both of whom appeared uninformed (for example, suggesting Shepard Park and Townline Park, both of which have already been researched at length and not considered to be appropriate for various reasons such as taxpayer monies, accessibility, etc.) despite the meetings that have gone on for 10 years. The dog park was denied by a vote of 5-3 and the Oneida-Avenue citizens get to keep the park for themselves. (Q: Why do they choose to live by a park where there are ballgames, fairs, markets, dogs?)

It is strange for me to observe this denial happen, especially since I used to live downtown and never saw that end of the park used by more than two people at a time! The dog park would not interfere with the path along the river. The beautiful stand of white pines would not be altered at all. It isn't the part that is used by the farmers' market. It isn't large enough for a baseball diamond. It could actually help the fair's animals. A dog park is a park; and parks by nature have designated areas for designated uses! This area is perfect for city dwellers and visitors alike who have dogs that need a place to play off-leash...and also for city-dwellers who wish they could have dogs and who could enjoy watching the ones there.

I left the meeting on Monday evening feeling disappointed with the process that silenced the majority; that gave in to the negative, self-serving minority; and that hurt the city of Rhinelander rather than benefitted it. Is it going to take another 10 years?!

Respectfully submitted,

Nancy Wilson

Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, March 13, 2017
Article comment by: Rebecca Oettinger

Residents of the city of Rhinelander should get to vote on it. We have referendums for everything else, why not for this? I think you would find there are a lot more people in favor of Pioneer Park than against it. I think it would bring more people out to that park.

Posted: Saturday, March 11, 2017
Article comment by: Peter Herrick

Very disappointing decision by the city administrators. Please watch this video about a city that did it right.

Posted: Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Article comment by: Barbara Knoeck

I agree with Nancy Wilson's letter. I have never seen that end of Pioneer Park used for anything. It would be a perfect spot for a dog park,much better than Shepard Park. Has anyone on the City Council ever gone to any other cities to see that other cities do have easy accessible dog parks for residents and visitors to use. And why would people in the neighbor have a problem with there being a dog park there, it's not going to hurt the value of their homes. It's almost like the city council we have now really doesn't care about the city, they vote everything down. The only thing lately that they didn't bother asking for people's opinion on was the hiring of the city administrator.

Posted: Monday, March 6, 2017
Article comment by: tony hansen

If we need a place for a Great Dog park in Rhinelander, Please call Joe Duchac
He has a spot that would be perfect for your use...Contact Joe @ 715-550-6136Ya46

Posted: Sunday, March 5, 2017
Article comment by: Brian Holmes

I think it was truly a terrible decision by City Council members, especially Steve Sauer, the ward's alderman.

The park ice-hockey rink was taken down after last year's county fair without notice or fanfare. It had been the city's de facto dog park, as people and their dogs could play together there in the safety of the old rink enclosure. Maybe every city park needs a doggie area where people and their dogs can play a bit and then walk home. Dog owners aren't looking for bells and whistles, just a little shelter for ten or fifteen minutes' safe play.

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