Changes proposed for dog park

Holmes Beach dog park
A welcoming sign warns visitors they're entering a place where dogs rule. - Kristin Swain | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – Dog park users and members of the Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee are finally making some progress in determining changes to present to commissioners for the city’s dog park.

During a special committee meeting, users and committee members discussed how each would like to see the $50,000 in funds allocated for park improvements used. Some of the ideas, which will be presented to commissioners when a fully-formed plan is in place, include redoing the rusting fence, adding benches, adding turf in areas where grass doesn’t grow and putting in new water fountains for dogs and their humans.

Other ideas are to add access gates, change gate access to a push button system, add landscaping in and around the park and add sunshades. At the end of the meeting, after public input, committee members also amended a previous vote, agreeing to present an idea to commissioners to expand the park slightly by squaring it off on the south end where the park curves around the city’s ball field.

Committee member Joshua Linney said squaring off the south end of the park will add a small amount of space to the large dog park, allowing for more dog run areas, and also may allow committee members to move the dividing fence line between the large and small dog parks, giving both more room.

Committee member Dennis Groh proposed adding coco plums to the outer perimeter of the park to beautify the exterior while also helping to block sound from the park for surrounding residential homes. Committee members voted to add the plants to two sides of the fencing, but leave one open to allow easy sight lines for park goers. Also around the perimeter, committee members agreed to propose black, vinyl-coated fencing with four gates into the park, two for each side, along with maintenance entrances for city workers.

Inside the park, the vote was to add benches, add a metal sunshade to each side of the park, put in water fountains for both humans and dogs to use and add pavers underneath the benches. With the pavers, committee members hope to discourage dogs from digging underneath the benches.

Wolf Fibar, a material designed for use in dog parks that resists bacteria and resembles wood mulch, is recommended to be used experimentally underneath one bench to see how the dogs react to the new substance. Two trees are planned to be added to the interior of the park as a part of April Arbor Day celebrations.

Committee members said City Engineer Lynn Burnett is working to address the drainage situation in the park to prevent future flooding during rain events.

One item that was a hot-button issue for dog park users is current access to the park. Despite new large signs being added to the dog park advising of rules and regulations, users said only two gates to the park were opened, creating an access issue.

“I don’t understand what it takes to open a gate,” resident Don Anthony said. “What is preventing us from getting a sign and opening the south gate today?”

Public Works Foreman Dave Benton said part of the issue with putting up signs, which would allow gates to be opened, is the ongoing push to renovate the park. With work already being planned for the area, he said it would be preferable to wait until work is completed before placing the signs.

Committee member Zan Fuller committed to speaking with Mayor Bob Johnson and working to rectify the situation temporarily while park improvements are in the planning phase.

“Some of the things will be an easy fix,” Fuller said, “and some things will take some time.”

“Ya’ll have done wonders today,” Anthony said near the close of the meeting. “You’ve done more today than has been accomplished in years.”

As plans for dog park improvements continue to evolve, anyone with suggestions is asked to contact Linney at [email protected] to have their comments considered by committee members and discussed at a future meeting.

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