PITTSFIELD -- The city has gotten a leg up toward the design of a proposed dog recreation area in Springside Park.
Mayor Daniel L. Bianchi will seek approval from city councilors Tuesday to accept a $13,750 grant from the private Stanton Foundation, which has offered to provide start-up funds for the project. The council also will need to approve terms of the grant agreement, which require a similar amount in matching funds from the city.
The concept is to create an area for dog owners and their pets to walk or exercise, complete with access to water for the animals, waste and trash receptacles and other amenities.
"We talk about utilization of Springside Park," Bianchi said. "This would increase utilization of the park; I think it would certainly do that."
He added, "We are a community that places a lot of value on our four-legged friends."
According to an Oct. 11 letter from Elisabeth Allison, co-director of the New York-based foundation, the grant amounts to about 10 percent of the "hard construction costs" for the park, estimated at $137,500. The grant would a feasibility study into a dog recreation space and create design options.
For construction, Bianchi said, "There might be additional grants, or it might be a capital [city] project."
A memorandum of understanding with the grant announcement includes that the city would agree to provide water to the site, trash and waste receptacles that are emptied on a regular basis, issue annual reports on the facility for three years, and set up a coordinating committee to advise on policies and other issues related to the site and help identify additional grant funding.
The parks department would, however, set rules and policies, concerning use by non-resident dog owners or owner responsibilities, for example.
The foundation also asks that the city attempt to set up a friends-of-the-park group to raise funding and otherwise support the recreation area.
"The goals of this project are to improve animal welfare, foster city community and camaraderie and generally improve the quality of life in Pittsfield through the creation of a Dog Recreation Park in Springside Park," according to the proposed grant agreement.
The Stanton Foundation, which also has funded police dog acquisition and training in other communities, as well as other charitable causes, is named for Frank Stanton, a broadcasting innovator and pioneer and a principal at CBS as it grew into an influential media entity. He died in 2006.
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