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Idea for dog park presented to Bradford City Council

Bradford Dog Park Association member Claudette Haner, left, tells Bradford City Council the benefits a dog park could have for the Bradford community, while fellow association member Nicole Ackley listens.

Should Bradford City support the creation of a local dog park?

Members of the Bradford Dog Park Association approached city council Tuesday with their reasons as to why a dog park would be good for the community. A work session on the topic was held prior to the regular council meeting.

Claudette Haner of the association said they want a park that is “well-maintained and that people use appropriately so it’s harmonious in the community, doesn’t create issues.”

She said they have already received community support in various ways. More than 350 people have signed petitions in favor of a dog park, and the group has received several emails from people volunteering to help and offering possible locations.

Benefits of the park, according to Haner, include socialization and exercise, promotion of responsible dog ownership, decrease in off-leash dogs where it’s illegal, opportunities to partner with businesses and utilization of natural resources.

Dr. Mark Kelley, professor of exercise science at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford, offered statistics showing the benefits of dog ownership.

For instance, dog owners walked an additional 22 minutes — or about 2,760 steps — a day. Also, in McKean County, 32% of adults are obese and 27% are physically inactive, he said.

Association member Nicole Ackley presented two suggestions where a dog park could be located.

One idea is to put it in a section of Callahan Park to the left of the tennis courts. It’s an “underutilized area” that is away from the playground, she noted.

The second location is on Seaward Avenue past the Bradford Sanitary Authority. This area is further away from houses so noise would not be an issue.

Ackley noted the group does not want to take away space that is already used for something else.

They addressed some of the concerns people might have, too.

For instance, noise can be mitigated with natural barriers and adherence to noise ordinances. Signage and gentle reminders from other park users can help keep waste from dogs at a minimum. Signage can educate people on how to prevent or stop dog fights.

They suggest the park can be self-policing.

The association is planning to seek private funding for the park, unless the city is able to allocate funds. They suggested several fundraiser ideas.

The estimated costs include fencing, gates, waste bag stations, benches and signage. If the Seaward Avenue location is chosen, there will be excavation costs, too.

Everyone seemed to agree on the benefits of a dog park — including solicitor Mark Hollenbeck and members of council — but Hollenbeck brought up a couple of legal concerns related to liability for the group to consider.

Currently, the Bradford Dog Park Association is not a legally formed entity — just a group of citizens who have been working together on the project.

Hollenbeck said he would feel more comfortable if the group became a legal entity. He also talked about the association looking into insurance for the proposed park.

When Haner said money was a concern when it came to forming a 501©(3), Hollenbeck noted they likely can form a corporation without obtaining non-profit status.

Riel, who had explained at the start of the meeting that council could not make a decision or any commitment at a work session, ended the session simply by saying, “We’ll be in touch.”

At the regular meeting, Bradford Area Public Library Executive Director Lacey Love and board member Tina Martin attended to talk to the board about the library’s funding.

The library lost a chunk of funding from the Bradford Area School District this year, and they are asking the local municipalities it serves not to cut the funding that each donates.

Currently, the city gives $25,000 per year to the library. The library gets 16% of funding from state aid, 13% from local government and 71% from private donations and operating income.

However, to keep receiving the same amount in state aid, the library must spend a certain amount per capita — an amount they worry they won’t be able to meet if other funding sources are cut.

Love and Martin invited the group to attend the library’s annual report to the community at 6 p.m. Oct. 21.

Also at the meeting, Halloween trick-or-treat hours have been set for 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31.

Council passed on the second reading an ordinance giving them up to 21 days to review a recommendation from the Historic Architectural Review Board before voting on it.

Previously, council was required to vote on the recommendation at their next meeting, which sometimes fell on the day after HARB met, giving council little time to review it.

Council also authorized the submission of an application for $298,504 of 2019 Community Development Block Grant funding.

Plans for the $298,504 entitlement program funding include further historic district streetscape improvements, blighted property demolition, single family housing rehabilitation and administration costs, according to Sara Andrews, executive director of the Office of Economic and Community Development. She talked about the funding at two public hearings held in August and September.

Council approved a facade improvement grant of $5,000 to Goldenwest Group LLC for facade improvements at 72 Main St. — the Bradford Chocolate Factory, too.

The next regular council meeting is set for 7 p.m. Oct. 22.