HOLMES BEACH – Renovations at the city’s dog park now hinge on City Engineer Lynn Burnett’s master plan for the city park complex.
Members of the Parks and Beautification Committee, along with several members of the public, presented their ideas for renovations to the dog park at a May 8 commission work session.
Commissioner Judy Titsworth added her idea as well, saying it might be a good time to look at relocating the dog park to another part of the city park complex, possibly to the northeast area near the basketball and tennis courts currently being used as a construction staging area.
Titsworth said the current park poses some location problems, including being close to residential housing and leaving parkgoers in danger of being hit with fly balls from the neighboring baseball diamond.
Rather than investing the $50,000 allocated to dog park improvements in the current location, she suggested looking at relocating it to build a new and improved dog park and leave the current one open during construction. If commissioners decide to go in that direction, minimal improvements will be made to the current dog park to make it better for patrons in the interim.
Commissioners instructed Burnett to look at the park complex as a whole and come back before them quickly with a suggestion to keep the dog park in place or where to relocate it so that improvements can get underway.
“Look at the whole park as a blank slate,” Commissioner Rick Hurst advised Burnett.
Commissioner Carol Soustek said she wants to see action taken to improve the dog park now rather than potentially waiting years to see a master plan for the entire park.
If the park is going to be moved, improvements suggested for the interim include replacing rusted fence posts, addressing drainage issues, adding potable water stations and looking at the ground cover issues.
If the park stays in place, committee members suggested $38,500 in changes, including replacing the fence, adding benches, adding large trees for shade, adding water bottle filling stations where owners can fill dog bowls, using a combination of crushed shell and sand as ground cover instead of grass and dirt and installing a fire hydrant style fountain for dogs to play in. Additional entrances with push button access also were suggested, along with netting to prevent baseballs from flying into the dog park.
Dog park users spoke in favor of both options, though all agreed they want to see improvements happen quickly no matter where the park is located.
“It’s important that we get this project right,” Renae Ferguson said, asking commissioners for a project timeline. “I don’t want to be pushing a wheelchair when this is done.”
Burnett said that stormwater improvements scheduled for Flotilla Drive should help alleviate some of the dog park’s drainage problems. She agreed to develop a master park plan and come back before commissioners with her recommendations.
“We have an opportunity here to improve an important recreational area in our city, and I’m looking forward to seeing a vision for it,” Ferguson said.