Melton councillors have stalled on approving funds for an off-leash dog park at Diggers Rest, opting for it to be reviewed as part of the Diggers Rest Recreation Reserve masterplan.

More than 35 residents petitioned the council asking for councillors to approve $87,500 in funding for a 4000-square metre dog park at the Diggers Rest Recreation Reserve in this year’s budget. Funding the park in this year’s budget was one of three options put forward by council officers.

But at last week’s council meeting, councillors voted to refer the request to be reviewed as part of the recreation reserve masterplan, with Cr Sophie Ramsey suggesting the halving of the park and a reduction in cost to $50,000.

This was despite a council officer recommendation that 4000-square-metres should be regarded as a minimum area for off-leash dog parks.

The officer’s report was presented at last week’s council meeting in response to a request by Cr Michelle Mendes in December to investigate options for an off-leash dog park at Diggers Rest.

She told last week’s meeting she agreed to slashing the size of the park in half, but wanted her community to be consulted on the location.

Speaking with Star Weekly, Cr Mendes said it was important to look at the size and population of Diggers Rest before approving a 4000-square-metre off-leash dog park.

“We don’t want to provide something that’s too big,” she said. “But I do realise it’s a growing community.”

Diggers Rest resident Karen Brewer, who lobbied for a dog park, said she believed a 2000-square-metre park would be adequate for the area, but she wanted councillors to approve funding the park in this year’s budget.

“We need somewhere to take our dogs where they can interact with each other and we can have a chat with other residents,” Ms Brewer said. “Dog parks are a great way for people to meet and socialise.”

Consultation for the next phase of the Diggers Rest Recreation Reserve masterplan is expected to start within four weeks.

When asked why she didn’t support the petition, Cr Mendes told Star Weekly she had received the petition on the night of the council meeting and hadn’t had time to read it.

“You can’t hand a petition on a Monday night and expect things to go a particular way.”