Our Mission

The mission of Friends of Canandaigua Canine Campus (CCC) is to help establish and support a membership dog park in the City of Canandaigua where dogs may safely play and exercise off-leash.

CCC, a growing volunteer group founded in 2013, is comprised of approximately 400 dog lovers who live in or near Canandaigua. We support the city by fundraising for a dog park build and providing well-researched input into its design, safety and implementation. Friends of Canandaigua Canine Campus continues to advocate for responsible dog ownership which includes providing appropriate exercise and socialization opportunities for the health and well-being of canines and their owners.

Our History

In the summer of 2012, Canandaigua resident Nancy McCarthy began to formulate a plan to build a community membership dog park on empty lots in her Ward 1 neighborhood. McCarthy engaged the professional skills of Karl Naegler to draw an artistic rendering of her proposed Canandaigua Canine Campus (CCC). This proposal, which included forming a fundraising non-profit group to buy the privately owned land and build the park, was unveiled on April 30, 2013 at a public meeting. About 50 dog owners initially embraced the idea and helped work toward that goal as many more volunteers and supporters continued to steadily join the effort.

Two months later, independent of CCC’s efforts, city staff and some councilmembers were informally exploring sites for a city dog park and had identified the western end of Baker Park (BP) as a possible site. The non-profit avenue that CCC was considering was proving too complex and costly, especially the land purchase, and McCarthy offered to instead help the city to build a park at Baker Park. This location alleviated the burden of a land purchase and shifted the project’s paradigm from a completely volunteer driven non-profit model to a city/volunteer collaboration. The proposed concept, at that time, was that the City would provide the land, build the park, fund basic park requirements (“Phase 1”) and collect memberships from dog park users for the ongoing maintenance of the dog park. The role of CCC would be to provide park design input, help fundraise for future amenities and continue to advocate for responsible dog ownership in the community.

City staff formally proposed a dog park at Ward 4’s Baker Park in the fall of 2013. The council supported the concept but due to some neighbor opposition of the BP location, directed CCC to investigate other site options. An open committee began to meet with Mayor Ellen Polimeni in March 2014 to look at city-owned land alternatives. It was determined by the committee by June that BP was the only viable, and most cost effective, location. No other city park had the space for a dog park without eliminating existing amenities.

Other land parcels considered were too small (the committee was working with the size of approximately two acres) or had no parking or other issues. The VA was willing to explore leasing land to the city but the committee did not support the concept of  committing resources to “rent” land for a city park. The costs to build at the VA were also extremely high.

The neighbor opposition to Baker Park began to rise. Concurrently, a Canandaigua couple offered to donate land in Ward 2 for a dog park if there was a clear commitment and plan from the city. CCC requested that the council leave Baker Park as an option while this new site was considered and compared to BP. The Planning Committee instead voted the Baker Park location off the table (a 3-1 vote) in October 2014 without formally reviewing or accepting the Ontario Street land donation. It was a bitter disappointment.

Ontario Street Site Update

Nancy McCarthy was asked to work with a small subset of elected officials and city staff on a new plan for a dog park on the Ontario Street site. Councilmember Jim Terwilliger reached out to the landowners to thank them for their offer and to let them know a plan was forthcoming.

McCarthy’s detailed Business Plan (created with input from city staff) on behalf of CCC was presented by Mayor Polimeni and Councilmembers Terwilliger and Whitcomb at the April 2015 City Council Planning Meeting. The following month, the entire City Council voted unanimously in favor of a city-owned, managed and maintained dog park presumably on the Ontario Street parcel! CCC committed to helping to fund raise for the park and already had $32,000 in promised pledges.

The short task list to move from “concept” to “project” included a Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) site tour in June 2015. It was during that visit when city staff and CCC volunteers learned that the entire parcel is comprised of federal and state-regulated wetlands. The DEC would not issue required permits for any development of the lot, including a dog park.

At that critical juncture, the dog park no longer had a viable location and the project stalled.

McCarthy issued a public appeal about the need for a new location and reached out to Canandaigua Chamber of Commerce’s economic development specialist to explore the potential of undeveloped privately-owned parcels.

“Home” At Last: 97 Buffalo Street Location

In November 2015, a potential site was identified and the owner was contacted with the help of a realtor, also a CCC volunteer. The land, an appropriate size and suitable to site a dog park, came with some challenges: it is partially comprised of wetlands and had also been the subject of a DEC spill case and investigation.

Several stakeholders–some city staff, council and volunteers, including environmental consultants from DIEHLUX, toured the nearly 4 acre parcel located at 97 Buffalo Street. There is approximately two acres of land that could be developed without impacting wetlands, an appropriate size for a dog park. A professional sketch created by CCC volunteer Karl Naegler was shared at a subsequent meeting with DEC representatives who deemed the dog park plan satisfactory—the sketch addresses the wetlands and the former spill. The concern of any development of this land is to avoid deep excavation that would potentially uncover issues that would re-activate the DEC spill case. A dog park build would produce minimal land disturbance, hence an ideal use of this challenging space.

A new, updated Business Plan was presented to the council and the concept of building a dog park at 97 Buffalo Street was approved. By January 2017, the city had purchased this parcel with the express purpose of building a city dog park. CCC is working with the city to move this from concept to project to fruition! Construction of the dog park in 2018 is dependent upon funding construction costs. Click on “Make a Donation” for instructions on how to support the dog park with your tax deductible gift.

(Please follow our blogs on this website to keep up-to-date on the project.)

Contact Nancy McCarthy at canandaiguacaninecampus@gmail.com with any questions, for information on volunteering and to receive e-mail park progress updates. You can also find short updates posted on our Friends of Canandaigua Canine Campus Facebook page. Let’s turn this “ruff” idea into a “doggone” reality–help us to spread the word: tell your dog loving friends about Canandaigua Canine Campus!

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