Once gone to the dogs, Osoyoos park to be returned to baseball players

The Town of Osoyoos approved a plan on Monday to return a popular off-leash dog park to baseball players, while also throwing a bone to dog owners.

The off-leash dog park, which was originally intended for a ball diamond, will be converted into a minor baseball facility.

Meanwhile, a new off-leash park will be built at the old BMX track just a few metres from the current dog park.

Town council will also consider creating a second off-leash dog park at Kinsmen Park, depending on how budget talks go.

The conversion comes at the request of the Osoyoos Minor Baseball Association, which Jason Bartsch founded two years ago.

“After our first couple of seasons we realized that we have sort of outgrown the facilities that we have in our community and in order to grow baseball and grow the accessibility to older age groups we needed a proper minor baseball facility,” he said on Tuesday.

Mayor Sue McKortoff said the creation of a minor baseball diamond will attract more young families to the south Okanagan town.

“Last year we fought to keep our school here, we’ve got it, we just think that it’s really important to provide a wide range of activities,” she said.

But reaction has been mixed.

“I think it’s pretty silly, but they do say they’re going to build another one and spend more money when we already have this one here,” said dog owner Lindsay Raftis.

“Although I see the need for children and so forth, I think it’s a little unfair kicking us out,” said Claudia Nielsen.

“I think allocating so much tax money to a project that doesn’t have a good solid base is a little bit irresponsible,” added Francesco Oliva.

Elizabeth Burnett, who started a petition to save the dog park, said the relocation plan appears to be a fair compromise, as long as the new dog park is of the same quality and can be afforded.

“I love this idea,” she added.

Gerald Davis, the town’s director of community services, said the biggest cost to convert the dog park into a ball diamond would be the skinning of the infield and installing shale.

The cost estimate for the shale is approximately $17,000.

The town also wants to extend a fence to accommodate slo-pitch use which would cost an additional $3,000 to $5,000.

The changes to the current off-leash site are expected to be in place by next April.

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