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Potsdam dog park plans near completion

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POTSDAM — Man’s best friend may soon have a new place to play outdoors as planning for a dog park in the village nears completion.

The Potsdam Humane Society will pitch the plan for the park to the village Planning Board at a meeting Feb. 6.

The idea for the dog park was first proposed last year by Deborah P. Massell, dog owner and professor at SUNY Potsdam’s Crane School of Music.

Work has been underway in earnest since September, with some planning left to be done.

“I’m really positive. The people that have been stepping up to make donations is wonderful, and the local businesses are really excited by it, which is good,” Ms. Massell said.

“They are still kind of at the end of the planning stage,” said Alicia M. Maynard, director of the Humane Society.

The park will be built near the Humane Society shelter at 17 Madrid Ave. The shelter owns about 6 acres of land, much of it unused, creating the perfect space for a park.

Clearing has begun on the site, and will continue in the spring when the weather allows the use of a backhoe.

The trees cleared will be mulched to make wood chips for the walking paths.

Ms. Maynard said she can’t provide an estimated cost yet, but much of the preliminary work has been done free of charge.

Maine Land Surveying, Potsdam, surveyed the property, and Wagner Hodgson, a landscape architecture firm from Burlington, Vt., donated a design concept for the park inspired by the Adirondacks.

The park will consist of a large, fenced-in area with trails, benches and a gazebo. A separate fenced area will provide a safe place for small dogs, or a time-out space for naughty canines. Another area will be reserved for special use, such as exercising and training shelter dogs that don’t do well with others.

Dogs inside the park will be able to run and play off-leash to their hearts’ content, and an on-leash walking trail will surround the park.

The park will provide a much-needed place for owners to exercise their pets, Ms. Massell said.

“Now they need to walk on the highway, and that’s not good,” she said.

Ms. Maynard said she has been happy to help fulfill the community’s request for a park.

“I think it’s a good way to promote responsible pet ownership,” she said.

Plans to create a similar dog park in Canton have been stalled several times during the search for a suitable location.

The Humane Society will continue to collect donations and soon begin a search for grants to help fund the Potsdam project. Work will begin in the spring, assuming the plan is approved by the village board.

“We can’t really do much labor-wise right now, but we’ll be in the planning stages,” Ms. Massell said.

She estimates the project will be complete either this year or in 2015.

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