Dog park may find home in area of Oak Glen Park

Staff Writer

HOWELL— After several years of discussion, a plan to create a dog park in Howell may be one step closer to becoming a reality.

The original proposed location for the dog park — a facility where dogs can run off-leash — was on Easy Street as an extension of Soldier Memorial Park.

Environmental considerations at that location eventually led officials to look for a different property. They now believe they have found a suitable spot for a dog park — a 1.5-acre tract near the basketball courts at Oak Glen Park, Old Tavern and Preventorium roads.

“I think everybody accepts that [site at Oak Glen Park] as the place where the dog park will be,” Deputy Mayor William Gotto said at the Feb. 15 meeting of the Howell Township Council.

The Oak Glen Park site provides features such as natural shading, a nearby parking lot, a wooded area and visibility — items the Recreation Advisory Committee wanted in its original plan, Gotto said.

A matching grant for $50,000 from the Monmouth County Park System will be used to pay for the dog park along with donations the Recreation Advisory Committee is currently working to obtain, he said.

Gotto said the original dog park plan would have cost several hundred thousand dollars. There is now a cap on the cost of the dog park of $100,000, which includes the county grant.

The Recreation Advisory Committee is working to ensure that the project has no cost to the township. The committee is seeking donations of money, fencing and manpower.

“It is now conceivable that it has no cost to the taxpayers,” Gotto said in a followup interview.

The concerns that arose with the original plans for the dog park stalled the project, but now with the county grant still in place and a more bare-bones approach to amenities and cost, the proposal has the green light, he said.

Councilwoman Pauline Smith said the new plan has an extra advantage.

“They can start with basic trails and receptacles and make improvements along the way,” Smith said. “I think it’s a far superior plan.”

“This is a good thing for Howell,” Councilman Robert Nicastro said. “We were able to bring two committees together to work together. This is the way things need to be done. I am glad we are moving forward with this.”

Nicastro thanked Gotto for his continued efforts on the dog park project.

Representatives of the Engineering Department and the Recreation Advisory Committee are expected to meet this week to draw up a layout of the dog park, Gotto said.