COLUMBIA CITY — Columbia City officials are calling for pet owners to take more responsibility for animal feces on public property.

“I took a walk and it is ridiculous how much people are not picking up after themselves,” Columbia City Mayor Ryan Daniel said at last week’s council meeting. “Any responsible dog owner should be walking with a bag in their pocket. Period.”

There’s even a city ordinance against it.

“It’s very clear that it’s the owner’s responsibility to pick up after their animal.”

Daniel said he’s received complains about animal feces at the parks and downtown areas, such as the Thomas Marshall Plaza alley park.

“Note to residents — pick up after your dogs,” he said.

Columbia City Parks Director Mark Green said the parks department will be installing two “doggie stations” at the parks — making it easier for pet owners to clean up after their animals. The stations come at a cost of $500 per station.

The parks department has other updates on the way, including an update to the bathroom facilities at Morsches Park — which should lead to the elimination of portable bathrooms that are currently located outside the concession stand.

The city is also considering funding for a $400,000 storage building for the parks. Daniel said the city is waiting to determine how to fund the building until it receives its $1.9 million from the state as part of the Stimulus Bill. It is unclear what the stipulations are for use of those dollars, and until that time, Daniel suggested the city wait on expenditures such as the storage building. He plans to work with Clerk-Treasurer Rosie Coyle to bring a plan to the council.

“We’re trying to work out everything, get some clarity, and make sure we’re using those dollars wisely,” Daniel said. “That’s why we’re on pause.”

The money is expected to be made available in June.

The council also approved the second reading of an annexation petition, which would put the Columbia City High School area in the city limits — the first of two annexations on the property. The annexation is 100% voluntary from the school corporation.

The decision is expected to have its third and final approval at the council’s April meeting, after a fiscal plan has been adopted.

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