TERRE HAUTE —
After years of dogged work, Terre Haute is just a short walk away from its first public “bark park.”
The Board of Public Works and Safety on Tuesday approved a lease between the city of Terre Haute and Vectren Corp. for a 1.1-acre piece of land near the north end of Fairbanks Park near the Wabash River.
The land will become the city’s first-ever public park devoted to dogs and their owners.
The park has been five years in the works, said Chou-il Lee, city attorney, speaking to the board, whose members are appointed by the mayor to oversee city contracts.
“It’s been worth every month that we’ve dedicated to the project,” said Pat Martin, city planner, who coordinated the effort for the city.
Vectren is expected to begin cleaning up the property in June or July, and the park could be open for dogs and their owners before the end of the year, Martin said. The project is a joint effort between the city government, Vectren and the Indiana Brownfields Program, he said.
The park will be located on property that once housed gas company equipment and buildings. Hazardous materials currently exist in the soil at the property, and Vectren will be removing 18 inches of top soil and replacing it with clean soil, Martin said. There will be a barrier between the new soil and the soil beneath, Martin said. Also, the new earth will include rocks and other materials to prevent dogs from being able to dig down into contaminated soil, Martin said.
Vectren could not estimate a project cost as of Tuesday, said Natalie Hedde, manager of corporate communications for the energy company.
For the city, the park will have a cost of at least $30,000 to pay for fencing around the property, Martin said. The city is also going to provide water up to the edge of the park and will plant trees around the edges of the park, he said.
Vectren will continue to own the property, but the city will lease it for $1 per year, Martin said. The lease expires in 2099 unless sooner terminated under the terms of the agreement.
The interior of the park will include items typically found in dog parks, such as teeter-totters and short bridges for dogs to walk across, Martin said. The city will coordinate a fundraising effort to pay for those items, he said.
The project is a triple-win, Martin said. It cleans up a contaminated site, reactivates a vacant area of the park and provides the city with its first-ever public dog park, he said.
“Basically, it’s just a great opportunity for collaboration between Vectren and the city of Terre Haute for something that will be great for the community,” Vectren’s Hedde said.
Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes