Western New Jersey

Dog park plan unleashed in Phillipsburg

PHILLIPSBURG, N.J. - Dogs in one Warren County, N.J., community may soon have a place where their owners can let them unleash their inner canine.

Phillipsburg town council and members of the public reacted favorably Monday night to a plan for a dog park where canines can roam freely in an area near the tennis courts at Delaware River Park.

Patrolman Louis DeLuca, who presented the proposal to council, said a $10,000 grant from pet supplies chain Petco will pay the cost of fencing, which he said was the project's biggest expense.

Construction could begin early next spring, if the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection approves, DeLuca said.

Town engineer Stan Schrek said the dog park would be polygon-shaped, roughly 380 feet by 180 feet.

DeLuca said dog owners wanting to use the park, where their pets could roam without a leash, would have to get a permit from the town.

Dogs would have to be registered and up-to-date with their vaccines to qualify for a permit, said DeLuca, adding people living outside Phillipsburg would have to pay a slightly higher permit fee, when rates are set.

Mayor Harry Wyant said after the meeting that the dog park idea was first brought up about a year ago.

In other business, council approved a new labor agreement with 38 sanitation and public works employees who have been without a contract since the beginning of the year.

The three-year contract, which is retroactive to Jan. 1, gives the workers a 5.55 raise -- 1.85 percent in each year.

Salaries for the workers range from the mid-$20,000 to up to $50,000, said Mayor Wyant.

Last month, council approved a four-year agreement giving the 10 superior officers on Phillipsburg's police force a 7.4 percent raise spread out in 1.85 percent increments each year.

That contract is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2012, the day after the previous contract covering five police sergeants, four lieutenants and one captain expired.

Wyant said Monday night that the salaries for the officers covered by that contract range from roughly $80,000 to $100,000.

Council also gave final approval to a $7,907,500 bond ordinance to raise money to pay for improvements at the town's sewage treatment plant.

Council first approved the ordinance on Oct. 15.

The improvements will help the plant meet new state requirements to remove more copper and phosphorous from sewage, and also create a larger dilution area for discharged water.

The water that now goes directly into the Lopatcong Creek will be discharged closer to the Delaware River.

"It's an important project," said council member John A. Lynn. "We looking to the future. ... It's a lot of money, but in the long run, the town's going to benefit."

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