Lancaster is going to the dogs.
The town is weighing a pair of projects that could turn the suburban community into a kind of puppy paradise.
The big one is a $2.1-million sports arena for dogs that could be called a canine coliseum with a 10,000-square foot turf ring for flyball, trick training and agility competitions.
Premier Dog Sports & Event Center will be on a five-acre parcel at 15 Lancaster Parkway near Walden Avenue and Pavement Road. It is expected to fill a void for hundreds of pet owners who now must travel to Pennsylvania or Ohio to enter their dogs in American Kennel Club competitions, said Michelle Gordon of Cheektowaga, who plans to open the facility with her husband, Donald.
“This is an underserved market in the dog-training world," she said. “There are local training centers in Tonawanda and Hamburg, but there is nothing like this here.”
The Gordons have three Basset hounds and were driving weekly to Erie, Pa., and Rochester to enter their pets in competition. After the Rochester center closed, they began to look for a site to build their own canine center.
The project will be the subject of a public hearing scheduled by the Lancaster Industrial Development Agency at 8:30 a.m. March 10 in Lancaster Town Hall, 21 Central Ave. The Gordons requested exemptions from mortgage and sales tax, and real property taxes through a payment in lieu of taxes.
Premier would offer areas for competition and training as well as lodging for Kennel Club judges, coin-operated dog washes, a mezzanine viewing level and parking for recreational vehicles with hookups, Michelle Gordon said.
“Many of the owners are traveling with multiple dogs, and it’s difficult to find hotels that allow pets,” she said.
Competitions will take place in a climate-controlled setting that will be energy conscious and include solar panels. Classes will be offered in agility, obedience, scent work, puppy training and flyball.
If the Gordons get the approval they are seeking, ground-breaking on the canine center is expected in April.
In a related development, organizers for Lancaster Unleashed continued to work toward establishing a 1.4-acre parcel in Como Lake Park near the Bowen Road entrance.
The new dog park will be located behind the park's maintenance building, with nearby bathrooms and access to utilities. It joins two other dog parks in the Erie County Parks system located at Black Rock Canal Park and Ellicott Creek Park.
Lancaster Unleashed is an all-volunteer group that advocated for the establishment of the park, and will be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep.