By Shereen Siewert

Wausau’s canine residents could soon have a new place to run and play, as city leaders consider several potential sites for the community’s first dog park.

Members of the city’s parks and recreation committee on Monday will review site assessments for four potential dog park locations. The sites being considered are Brockmeyer Park, on the city’s far west side; a two-acre parcel on Merrill Avenue; Riverside Park; and a 2-acre parcel at 224 S. Fourth Street that is currently owned by the Community Development Agency.

One dog lover, Dino Corvino, said he thinks Riverside Park is an obvious choice because it is the prettiest of the four sites and is located away from residential homes. That site would be the easiest of the four to convert to a dedicated dog space, said Corvino, who visits the Weston dog park daily with his dog, Gracie.

“Any space is great for dogs as long as they have a place to run,” Corvino said.”I’m super excited to see Wausau commit to doing this.”

Dog parks are increasingly popular in cities across the country. They range in size and design but all share the same purpose: to provide a place where dogs can run freely off-leash and socialize with other dogs.

And the socialization aspect isn’t just for the dogs, Corvino said. Dog parks are also a place where strong communities of pet lovers gather and connect, resulting in valuable and lasting friendships.

“It’s amazing how dog people can build a shared community around the love of their pets,” Corvino said.

Two additional proposed locations have been eliminated due to concerns over access, water, flood plain issues and parking.

City staffers say a successful dog park should be at least one acre, though parcels of more than two acres are sometimes more sustainable. They also say a dog park should be on mostly open land, away from residences, with drinking water, shade, and adjacent parking.

At a Nov. 6 parks and recreation meeting, Parks Director Bill Duncanson expressed some concern over Riverside Park, noting a potential conflict with people who rent the shelter for parties and other events. Duncanson said that a dog park could “significantly impair” the quality of the rental facility at the park. He also noted concerns about potential runoff into the river from dog waste.

But council members Pat Peckham and Tom Neal on Nov. 6 expressed support for a dog park at Riverside due in part to its central location and access to parking.

Once the committee chooses a location, the proposal will move to the full council for approval, possibly by the end of 2017. If all goes well, a dog park could be open in 2018.