Sarah Styskal is a dog lover, plain and simple.
With no children of her own, she derives a great deal of pleasure from spending time with her 5-year-old golden retriever, Remsen, and her recently adopted golden retriever mix, Annie.
The David City woman and a group of four others are now in the process of trying to secure land in the David City Park allowing for other area residents’ furry friends to stretch their legs off of a leash in a fenced-in area that would serve as the community’s first dog park.
During an October David City City Council meeting, Styskal proposed the idea to the council and spoke about various aspects of the project, which at the time she believed would run approximately $20,000. Mayor Alan Zavodny and other council members at that time encouraged Styskal to figure out a more definitive cost and provide them with additional details relating to the proposed park’s size and then return before the governing body at a later date where a determining vote would be cast.
On Thursday, Nov. 1, Styskal said she learned that she and her dog park committee, comprised of Connie Didier, Adaela Dostal, Diane Kozisek and Lucy Watts, received a $2,500 grant through the Butler County Area Foundation Fund.
“We applied and we had to tell about the project and say how we think it will benefit Butler County,” Styskal said.
She added that it’s anticipated that the total project would cost about $25,000-$30,000, which would include all fencing, a watering station, agility equipment, waste disposers and benches. However, she said that the most important aspect of the current fundraising venture is to secure enough funding to set up the fencing at the park.
The idea is for the dog park to be located in David City Park west of the campsite area and west of military tank which calls the area home. Styskal said that a few fencing companies have provided bids, which came in at around $17,500 for a 70-foot wide, 200-foot long, 4-foot tall black vinyl-coated chain-link fence.
“There are three lines of trees in that area and it would be super accessible and open with grass,” she said. “There would be space to play fetch because of how open it is and there are better parking options than west of the (Butler County) Clinic.”
Styskal said that inspiration for the project came from a few places. First, she highlighted that she attended a dog-related expo in Lincoln and spoke with some representatives about the dog parks in Lancaster County. She also noted that she visited Houston in February after the city was devastated by Hurricane Harvey and volunteered at Golden Retriever Acres Senior Sanctuary, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping older and special needs golden retrievers which have been abandoned.
In late August or early September, Styskal shared her idea on the Butler County Buy, Sell and Trade Facebook page and had many individuals respond indicating they believed it was a good idea, she said.
“Lots were interested, but not everyone would commit to planning; but we didn’t really need 20 people to be on the committee,” she said.
One person who decided to play an active role in the project through being a committee member is Diane Kozisek. The owner of two springer spaniels said the need for a dog park is absolutely there.
“You can drive down pretty much any street in David City and I would seriously doubt that you would not see a dog,” Kozisek said. “There are so many dogs here, and it’s something that gives owners a place to take their dogs where they can play and socialize and expend some energy. It helps make them better companions."
Several other residents agree. An official Friends of the David City Dog Park Facebook group has been created and so far, has 194 members. Anybody wishing to donate funds toward the proposed project can do so by writing a check designating the funds for the dog park and dropping it off at the main city office, 557 N. Fourth St.
“We do want to get back before the city council before we do a bunch of fundraising,” Styskal added. “We would feel a lot more comfortable if we received voting before asking for a lot of donations.”
Styskal added that the goal, with council approval, would be to start the project in spring 2019.
“A good start would really be to get the fence up,” she said. “The rest (of park upgrades) we can do down the line. And we would do fundraisers if we don’t get enough donations."
Sam Pimper is the news editor of The Banner-Press. Reach him via email at email@example.com.