Thursday, October 30, 2014

Altered name sits well with city, business

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 7/17/2013

Ottawa’s future dog park has a name — with a slight variation.

Ottawa city commissioners voted 5-0 Wednesday to approve the name: “The Ottawa Bark Park,” with “Sponsored by Advantage Ford” printed at the bottom of the new logo.

Ottawa’s future dog park has a name — with a slight variation.

Ottawa city commissioners voted 5-0 Wednesday to approve the name: “The Ottawa Bark Park,” with “Sponsored by Advantage Ford” printed at the bottom of the new logo.

A city-appointed ad hoc committee had voted 5-0 last week to recommend the city commission adopt the proposed “Advantage Ford Bark Park” name to honor the dog park’s largest donor.

But at Monday’s study session, some city commissioners said they had received calls from citizens expressing concern about “commercializing the park,” Wynndee Lee, the city’s director of planning and codes administration, said.

Lee talked with Bark Park Boosters committee members during their meeting Monday night about an alternative name because she had concerns the city commission might not endorse “Advantage Ford Bark Park,” based on the feedback they had received from members of the public, Lee said.

Lee and Bark Park Boosters representatives brought the originally proposed name to the Ottawa City Commission in early June after Advantage Ford, 402 N. Main St., Ottawa, pledged $10,000 for the project.

Per city policy for the naming of public land and facilities, the city commission established a five-person ad hoc committee to review the requested name for the dog park, which is to be built — possibly later this year — in the northwest corner of Forest Park, 320 N. Locust St., Ottawa.

The five members of the ad hoc committee — Sara Caylor, mayor; Deb Barker, Franklin County Historical Society director; John Boyd, Ottawa Planning Commission chair; John Coen, president and chief executive officer of the Ottawa Area Chamber of Commerce, and Andy Haney, city public works director — all expressed their support for the proposed “Advantage Ford Bark Park” name during their meeting last week.

The park will consist of two off-leash areas for large and small dogs. During its fundraising campaign, organizers had set a benchmark of $5,000 for a “naming donor.” Advantage Ford’s pledge covers both areas of the park, organizers said.

“We had hoped for a naming donor for one or both of the dog areas, and for Advantage Ford to step forward for both is wonderful,” Kim Geist, co-chair of the Bark Park Boosters group, said in June. “We are thrilled that Advantage Ford is so committed to our project.”

Advantage Ford’s gift constituted about 25 percent of the total fundraising goal for the park’s construction, organizers said.

On Wednesday, Lee told city commissioners Advantage Ford was agreeable to the modified name.

Advantage Ford representatives said the auto dealership made the $10,000 pledge because they wanted the city to have the dog park amenity, and not out of a desire for corporate gain by having the dealership’s name attached to the park, Lee said. The dealership even offered to have its name removed from the project, she said.

But city commissioners readily agreed with Lee’s suggestion to keep Advantage Ford’s name tied to the park in the amended “Sponsored by Advantage Ford” fashion with their unanimous vote.

Before the commission took formal action, Blake Jorgensen, city commissioner, thanked Advantage Ford for agreeing to work with the city on the proposed name change and said he would vote for the amended name. He also thanked Advantage Ford for the pledge and said the auto dealership was one of the best corporate citizens in the community.

“I wish we had 100 more businesses like Advantage Ford,” Jorgensen said.

Linda Reed, city commissioner, said she also would vote in favor of the new name and said she was glad a compromise could be reached. She also thanked all the principal players for their work on the project.

Signage at the park also will pay tribute to sponsors of the park through three club levels, Lee said. Donors who give $250 for the park will be listed under the Paw Print Club, while a $1,000 donor will be listed as a member of the Tail Wagging Club, she said. Donations of $5,000 will be listed under the A Dog’s Best Friend Club.

In late 2012, a group of residents approached the city about developing a dog park, and the Bark Park Boosters committee came about as an extension of that effort. The goal of developing the park is to provide pet owners with a safe place to let their dogs run off-leash, organizers said. The city commission recently approved a proposal to develop the northwest corner of Forest Park for the dog park.

The total cost of the park was estimated at $45,000 to $55,000, organizers said. Advantage Ford’s $10,000 pledge puts the total funds raised for the project at more than $24,000, the group recently said.

The group has set a goal of building the park this fall.

If funds are not sufficient for all aspects of the park, it can be built without some play features and training amenities that could be added when more funds are raised, Lee told city commissioners at a June study session.

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