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SPCA director wants to spark interest in expanding SPCA dog park

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Douglas A. Marlow has the perfect spot for a dog park — the existing one at the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals of Jefferson County’s campus on Water Street.

Mr. Marlow, the SPCA’s executive director, would like to see the existing dog park expanded and upgraded.

On Wednesday, he met with City Manager Sharon A. Addison to discuss his visions for the dog park after a Dorsey Street man revived his efforts to establish one at Thompson Park.

With the Watertown City Council not showing much interest in creating a dog park at Thompson Park, Mr. Marlow has suggested the SPCA’s facility “as another option.”

The SPCA dog park was built about five years ago so that dogs at the shelter could get exercise and for SPCA members to use. He opened up its use to the general public when he became the executive director in January.

But not a lot of people are aware the dog park exists, he acknowledged.

“It could be better utilized,” he said.

Under his concept, the SPCA facility would triple in size, have separate areas for small and large dogs, install a transition gate so dogs cannot escape and have a walking trail around a pond. It would cost about $100,000, he said.

On Wednesday, Dorsey Street resident Scott A. Gates agreed the SPCA site may be a way to proceed with his idea after failing to persuade council members to create a park at Thompson Park, although he does not prefer the SPCA location.

“If that’s the one we can get, than that’s the one we can get,” he said.

Several years ago, a benefactor came forward to contribute $200,000 to establish a park in his deceased dog’s name. When council members failed to act on his proposal four years ago, that money went to another community, Mr. Gates said.

However, he has raised about $5,000 and would be willing to undertake another fundraising campaign, Mr. Gates said.

The issue came up again Nov. 19 when Mr. Gates and two other residents lobbied council members to move forward with the idea. That night, Councilman Jeffrey M. Smith asked Mr. Gates about his views on the SPCA dog park.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said he would support the idea if Mr. Gates came up with the money to pay for it.

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