February 10, 2010

Parks and Rec Notes: Parking lot planned for dog run along Highway 38; MLK Center hub of activity, helping

(Left to right) Parks and Recreation Board members Aron Wisneski, committee Chairman Robert Hayes, Parks and Rec Director Donnie Snow and Jack Schumann.

Dog lovers may benefit from state plan to rebuild Highway 38.

Racine's Parks and Recreation Department is working with the Department of Transportation to build a gravel parking lot for the Dog Run along Highway 38 in Caledonia.

The project will cost about $30,000 and will be done while the state rebuilds the highway. The lot will have about 25 parking spots, Parks and Recreation Director Donnie Snow told the Parks and Rec Board Wednesday night at its meeting hosted by the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center.

The city's Finance and Personnel Committee has approved using parks money for the parking lot, Snow told the board.

The parking lot is an important addition to the dog run because, now, users have to parking on the shoulder along Highway 38. The state has said that's unacceptable and will have to stop, Snow said.

The lot will be built on a 66-foot wide right of way to the dog run that the city recently traded for to maintain access to the park.

The dog run is a low-maintenance city park that's used by city, county and even neighboring county residents, Snow said. It's a good time to build the parking lot, Snow said, because pairing it with the road project will keep costs down.

"This is probably the most advantageous way to go," Snow said.

The parking lot is headed to the City Council for final approval.

Cellular Tower

Snow briefed the board on US Cellular's request to build a cell phone tower in Lockwood Park. Several other cellular companies have considered building a tower in the park, but "for some reason or another," the plans never went through.

Alderman Aron Wisneski had one of the lines of the night when board member Amanda DeSonia asked why cell phone companies were interested in the park for a tower.

"It's a coverage issue," he said. "There's a dead zone in and around the hospital." After a few groans from the committee, Wisneski added: "I could have said cemetery, but that was too obvious."

Recycling containers in parks

Alderman Terry McCarthy inquired about a report from Snow on a rental agreement for dumpsters in city parks. He asked if the contract included bins for recyclables. The contract does not include recycling containers, Snow said.


McCarthy also asked about Snow's report that the city will mow its medians this year. Snow confirmed that was true, adding the county will handle mowing state- and county-owned medians.

Volleyball tourney

The city is organizing a women's volleyball tournament this year. The reason there's no men's tournament? No interest. Five women's teams entered last year, compared to just one team on the men's side.

MLK Center

The committee gave James Wilson, head of the MLK Community Center, a chance to make a pitch for any needs in next year's budget. Wilson said the big need is staff, which has been steadily cut since he took over the center in the 1990s.

And for those wondering if the community centers are used, the MLK Center was busy. Study groups and a Black History program for students, kids playing soccer in the gym, a healthy babies program were all going on Wednesday (and that's just a partial list). This center is definitely in use.

Board member Mike Frontier asked Wilson if he's seeing kids struggling with the economy.

"Kids are getting hungry," he said. "That's just about every day."

The center uses donations and existing programs to provide food for participants.

"Kids come in hungry, sometimes real hungry," Wilson told the board.


  1. I am glad to see Park and Rec doing a great job.

  2. Good coverage guys. Parking lot a great idea. I see a lot of people use that park and right now parking there is unsafe.

  3. Check out those cool sweaters!

  4. Another $30,000, for a park in Caledonia !! Oh I forgot this is JOHNSON park DOG PARK

  5. Again the Parks and Rec. dept is out of controll !! Snow must go !!

  6. So, now Donnie Snow is lumped in with everyone else at City Hall. In the minds of the brain trust on this blog, does anyone at all in city government do anything right?

    Can someone somewhere say something positive about anyone in government? Just one comment!

  7. I'm sure the new PR person for the city and the consultant for CAR25 will spin this somehow !

  8. I love using the park with my dog and I think it would be great if we could get a parking lot. But an even bigger issue I have noticed out there is the lack of dog waste bags and a garbage can to dispose of the waste. I have to bring my dog droppings in the car and throw them away at my house, which is a little ridiculous for a dog park. And I'm one of the good patrons. Many people just leave their bags of waste on the trail because there is no place to dispose of it. Mr. Snow, please consider placing a garbage can at the dog park as well as adding a parking lot. Thanks :)