A dog park is finally becoming reality in Westbrook.

After years of requests from the public and conversation among officials about where such a park would be located, the City Council’s Facilities and Streets Committee earlier this year decided on using a portion of Bicentennial Park, next to the Hannaford supermarket off William Clarke Drive.

On Monday, the City Council voted to award a bid for 275 linear feet of fencing and two gates to Burns’ Fencing of Westbrook for $6,894. In his memo to the council, City Administrator Jerre Bryant said the project will also include benches, trash receptacles, signage and a waste bag dispenser.

While Monday’s vote was unanimous, Councilor Victor Chau asked if the cost could be offset by donations, which have been discussed in the past. The city is hoping to work with companies like Idexx and groups like the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

“We have not received anything at this point, but we are intending to get this fully funded through donations,” Bryant said.

Westbrook residents have routinely brought up the need for a public dog park in the city, but discussions have often fizzled out while attempting to find a suitable location. When the Downtown Westbrook Coalition recently held its “visioning” session for the city’s future, a dog park was listed multiple times by residents.

Neighboring Portland has two dog parks – at Quarry Run near Falmouth and on Valley Street.

Bicentennial Park was chosen due to its existing parking lot, as well as proximity to downtown. In November of last year, Councilor John O’Hara, who serves as chairman of the Facilities and Streets Committee, said he is a dog owner who frequently brings his pet to the dog parks in Portland. He said because larger cities have passed leash laws for dogs, it has become necessary to provide dog parks.

During previous meetings, Westbrook resident Ann Bainbridge has said she has strongly advocated for a dog park in the city, bringing the idea forward to city officials on multiple occasions. In November, she argued that using Bicentennial Park would make the area “more vibrant.”

The back portion of the property is home to a skate park, while the field area has been used for youth soccer programs. Just last year, Portland Trails extended its Stroudwater Trail system to culminate there, coming from behind Hannaford and the Westbrook Armory.

There had been some reluctance from officials in choosing Bicentennial Park due to the youth soccer hosted there. However, City Enginner Eric Dudley said those programs have been relocated to the field at East Bridge Street, which has also recently received new soccer goals.

“It’s actually an improvement,” he said about the move.

O’Hara said he knows residents have also advocated for a dog park in the northern portion of the city, which has more open land. Councilor Mike Sanphy has brought up the issue during previous meetings, but officials have opted to concentrate on establishing the Bicentennial Park location first.

“Let us get this one done, find out what works and needs to be tweaked, and we won’t forget about the northern end of town,” O’Hara said.

Also on Monday, the City Council awarded a second bid for fencing to Burns’ Fencing, for the Small Hardy Road field in the northern portion of the city. The parcel was donated to the city by the former White Bros. Construction, as has been a long time coming for the city.

Bryant said Monday that it has taken two years to establish the appropriate playing surface at the site due to tough conditions. There have also been multiple incidents of vehicles beind driven onto the field.

The city had to install irrigation last year, and will finally complete the project this fall when the fencing, gates, paved parking lot and landscaping are finished. Bryant said the fencing will help protect the field from future damage.

A portion of Westbrook’s Bicentennial Park off William Clarke Drive will be used for a dog park. The City Council approved spending $6,800 Monday for fencing and gates for the park, which has been long-sought by the community.

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