Planning for dog park improvements begins

Holmes Beach dog park discussion
Mayor Bob Johnson helps to mediate talks between Holmes Beach Dog Park advocates and members of the city's Parks and Beautification Committee - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – Work is underway to bring fresh ideas and upgraded facilities to the city’s dog park.

Users from both the small and large dog parks gathered with Parks and Beautification Committee members Nov.1. Talks began to decide what changes are needed in the park. The first one suggested is to enlarge both parks.

Mayor Bob Johnson presented committee members and guests with an aerial photo of the park showing his suggestion to move the fence closer to Flotilla Drive to include more space for dogs and several established shade trees. Longtime dog park advocate Renae Ferguson applauded the idea. She added that the mature trees would reduce the need to add more trees to the park and provide much-needed shade for pets and owners.

Holmes Beach dog park aerial
An aerial shot shows where the fence exists for the dog park and how far Mayor Bob Johnson proposes the fence line extend. – Submitted | Sun

A large point of concern for users is the park’s irrigation system. Public Works Foreman Dave Benton was on hand for the meeting and agreed to go out with a group of park goers to visually check the sprinkler system on the small dog side. Users said they felt it wasn’t adequately watering the park, causing grass to die. As part of the park’s renovation process, the stormwater drainage system also will be observed to determine if further improvements are needed.

With a lot of ideas offered for how to spend the $50,000 allotted for park improvements by city commissioners, committee member Josh Linney said he felt more input from dog park users is needed. He suggested committee members visit the park and talk with users to create a priority-based list of items to consider. After the list is collected, dog park users will have a chance to weigh in on what they think is needed if funds are available. Based on that list, committee members will make a presentation to city commissioners to approve the changes and expenditures.

A draft of the priority list is expected to be presented at the next Parks and Beautification Committee meeting in December.

Johnson said he’s in favor of establishing priorities for the park before action is taken. He warned users that seeing the implementation of changes will be a gradual process involving not only user notice but also notice to neighboring property owners.

Linney also suggested contacting local businesses to see if sponsorships can be obtained for some of the improvements to lessen the financial burden on taxpayers and the city.

“I think this project is completely doable,” he said.