Dog park

The dog park at Wheeler Nature Park is “coming soon” per a sign that was erected in 2020.

A new dog park at Wheeler Nature Park in South Burlington is coming soon, according to a sign at the park entrance erected nearly a year ago.

The long-dreamed of dog park has been in the works since at least 2018, and while the application gained some ground this year, the wait may be a bit longer.

The development review board will reconsider the application, which proposes a dog park in the northwest corner of Wheeler, submitted by the Department of Public Works and the city committee on common areas for dogs, at a meeting in late October.

While the board already held a hearing on the application in June, Development Review Planner Marla Keene said the board requested to reconsider the application in search of more information regarding wetland impacts.

A reconsideration is somewhat unusual, she said, but generally occurs when someone — it could be board members, an applicant, a neighbor — requests to reopen the hearing to garner more information. In this case, board members were in the middle of writing a decision this summer when they decided they needed more information on the project’s wetland impacts.

While the board hoped to take up the application earlier this month, the city committee requested it be postponed for more time to prepare for the hearing.

As a miscellaneous application, which falls under the city’s land development regulations but not into a specific bucket, the proposed dog park only has to go before the development review board once before receiving the red or green light.

The committee on common areas for dogs — not to be confused with the dog recreation task force or the dog park committee or the South Burlington friends of dog parks — will meet in October prior to the hearing.

Betty Milizia, chair of the committee on common areas for dogs, is mostly hopeful looking forward, though she groans at the years and work it has taken to get to this point. Milizia served on the original dog park committee established in 2018, which changed its name this summer after some confusion over the dog park committee’s charge, term limits and sunset date.

Now, the committee on common areas for dogs is officially charged with handling dog park and recreation issues in the city. After the Wheeler dog park is finished, Milizia is eager to dive into on- and off-leash issues, registration issues and waste litter in parks.

The next committee meeting is set for Oct. 12, ahead of the development review board hearing Oct. 19.

“If all goes well, we will be able to install the new park in the spring,” director of public works Justin Rabidoux said of the application. “At this point we are in the permitting process and will go where that takes us.”

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