Purchase photos

City decides to hold land for dog park





Hays city commissioners looked at a broad range of subjects at Thursday night's regular meeting, making decisions on topics including a dog park, ball-park turf and a historic downtown structure.

Members of Friends of the Hays Dog Park, who have approached city commissioners on numerous occasions as they have searched for a dog park location, applauded commissioners' decision to set aside a 6-acre tract of land east of the maintenance building at Bickle/Schmidt Sports Complex for a future a dog park.

Kim Perez, president of Friends of the Hays Dog Park, told commissioners her organization believes the location is the best-suited option they have explored.

"It seems to make sense," she said. "There's a lot of issues with other sites we've looked at that are addressed in this park.

"It's a nice stretch of land. It's not in a residential area, which is one of the things we heard from the people that they didn't want it in a residential area."

Envisioned as a park surrounded by a 6-foot chain link fence, with doggie drinking fountains, posted rules and cleanup stations, the park area currently is maintained by the city of Hays Parks Department.

Now that an area has been set aside for the park, members are optimistic fundraising efforts will be more successful.

"Friends of the Hays Dog Park are looking to get donations for this park, and if the city commission would set aside this tract of land, they believe that they can increase their donations drastically because it shows that the city has bought into the project and agrees with the project," said Jeff Boyle, city of Hays parks director.

The organization has raised $8,600 to date. The project is estimated to cost $50,000 to $70,000. Commissioners will hold the land for up to two years while Friends of the Hays Dog Park raise money for the project.

Thursday's meeting also brought the historic structure at 811 Fort one step closer to demolition.

Commissioners also voted unanimously to adopt a motion of determination there are no other "feasible and prudent alternatives" to demolition of the historic structure at 811 Fort.

The condemnation process for the building was initiated by commissioners a few weeks ago, but during the interim, Liberty Group -- owners of the historic Opera House building -- began taking steps toward its demolition.

Since it is designated a historic structure, permission from the State Historical Preservation Office was required prior to demolition. As the SHPO's decision was the building should not be torn down, the final determination fell back to Hays city commissioners.

Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV said during the late 1980s and 1990s, the city of Hays considered purchasing and renovating the building. However, with no purpose in mind for the building, no funds for its purchase and lack of willingness on the part of the owner to sell, the building remained in private ownership throughout the years.

"There's been a lot of discussion in the community about this building," Schwaller said. "It's a very beautiful building, and it breaks my heart to tear it down."

In other business, commissioners:

* Voted to authorize the city manager to renew the city's 2012-13 commercial insurance policy with Companion Commercial Insurance.

* Approved 4-0 a proposal to cost share the replacement of turf at Lark's Park by Fort Hays State University in an amount not to exceed $150,000.

* Approved the disbanding of the regional hazardous materials team.

* Voted to accept the low bid of $56,850 from Van Keppel for a nine-wheel pneumatic roller.

* Approved rezoning 3112 E. 13th from agricultural to two-family dwelling unit.

* Commissioner Barbara Wasinger was absent.