Dog Park Aims for Spring Work

Nonprofit status needed before construction

OWEGO — Designs for Tioga County’s first dog park are being fine-tuned as Owego residents leading the project plan to break ground by spring.

The Owego Dog Owners Group (ODOG), composed of Owego residents who have lobbied for a dog park since last year, are in the midst of negotiating a final agreement with the town for managing the park and clearing legal hurdles needed to begin fundraising for the project.

“There’s two issues at this point: to incorporate the group at the state level and getting the group a not-for-profit status through the Internal Revenue Service,” said Kirk Martin, a lawyer representing ODOG in legal negotiations.

In September, Owego town board members unanimously approved construction of the dog park within the 100-acre Hickories Park.

The park would cover 3 acres and include fenced-in areas for large and small breeds, a storage facility for supplies, along with water access to fill pools for dogs to play in during hot days.

“We want it to blend in with what’s already there,” said Kathy Nichols-Newell, of Owego.

A three-page preliminary agreement between the group and the town board states the town will construct a fence around two sections of the dog park, but ODOG will provide reimbursement for the cost. ODOG will be responsible for a majority of operation and maintenance tasks, the agreement said.

The town also required ODOG to establish itself as a not-for-profit corporation and provide the town with an insurance binder with $2 million in liability coverage, naming the town as additional insured.

“We need it to be an entity we can deal with and have a binding agreement with,” Town Supervisor Don Castellucci said. “As far as the insurance, we mandate that from any organization that uses the park.”

Adam Weitsman, owner of Upstate Shredding, a scrap metal company in Owego, has pledged to fully fund the proposed park’s estimated $150,000 cost to build. It would be named after his sister, Rebecca, who enjoyed dogs before her death in 2001 from colon cancer.

“When the park opens in spring, hopefully it will be ready to go,” Castellucci said. “It will be a nice asset to the park.”