By Cynthia Drummond
Sun staff writer
RICHMOND — The Town Council has approved the designation of a new parcel of land as the town’s first official dog park. The property, which is just under 2 acres, is off Route 138, next to the town’s Heritage Trail.
Members of the Dog Park Committee were disappointed in September when the council determined that the property they had been using on Buttonwoods Road could not become an official dog park because the site, a former landfill, would have to be cleaned up and capped, an expensive and lengthy process.
Town Administrator Karen Pinch told the council that the property near the Heritage Trail would be suitable for a dog park.
“If you drive to the parking area of the Heritage Trail, to the right of that, there’s a big open area and some additional land that’s treed and it is definitely enough land to do a dog park there, and members of the Dog Park Committee seem very happy with that solution,” she said.
The council unanimously approved a motion by Mark Trimmer to declare the property the official dog park. The committee will submit a budget request to the town, which is expected to include money for fencing for both a large dog area and a space for small dogs. The committee, which has been managing the unofficial Buttonwoods facility for several years, has been raising funds for other dog park expenses such as picnic tables and dog waste bags.
Committee member Victoria Vona said she was thrilled that residents would finally have a permanent dog park. “It’s been a long six years,” she said.
Councilor Ronald Newman said he believed the new location was an improvement over the Buttonwoods property. “I think we turned out with a better outcome, don’t you?” he asked Vona.
“We’re very pleased with the outcome,” she replied. “We’re really excited to hopefully get in there by next spring, summer.
Finance director resigns
Finance Director Kelli Russ, who was hired in April, announced her departure. Russ, who grew up in Westerly and still has family in the town, was the finance director in Foster and has decided to return there.
“The Town of Foster has not filled the position I left and made me an improved offer to return,” she said. “As a family, we discussed the offer and for reasons that impact my family, I decided to accept.”
Russ said she had enjoyed working in Richmond. “I’d like to stress that I feel extremely valued in my position here in Richmond and I appreciate the support and respect I’ve received and continue to receive every day from the entire staff, the town administrator, and the Town Council,” she said.
Pinch said Russ had been a good fit for the town’s administrative team and she was sorry to see her go.
“We are sad to see Kelli leave Richmond,” she said. “She was a great addition to our team both professionally and personally. I only hope I can find a replacement with half her skills and work ethic.”
Russ will stay on until Oct. 31, and then split her time between the two towns until Richmond hires her replacement.