Dog park plans ready for commission presentation

dog park funding
Ringo, on the bench, and Holly, on the ground, take a break from some serious fun time at the dog park. - Maggie Field | Sun

HOLMES BEACH – The plans have been several months in the making but now members of the parks and beautification committee have a date to propose their recommended improvements to the city’s dog park to commissioners.

That date is Tuesday, May 8 during the commission workshop immediately following the 6 p.m. regular meeting. Committee member Joshua Linney said he hopes everyone who has been a vocal member of the public during the planning process will be at the commission workshop to offer public comment.

Committee members met May 2 for their last meeting of the season. They used the time to go over their final recommendations before presenting to commissioners and take public input on the proposed park improvements.

Holmes Beach parks
Resident Karen Zimmerman offers her thoughts on the proposed improvements to the dog park to members of the Holmes Beach Parks and Beautification Committee. – Kristin Swain | Sun

Priorities for the dog park project include adding infiltration trenches, resurfacing the area, adding trees for shade and benches for seating with pavers underneath to prevent digging, and changing out the current fencing for a vinyl- coated one that is more resistant to rust. Adding water filling stations for water bottles and dog bowls along with an additional access gate for maintenance and push-button gates for public access also are suggestions favored by committee members. Committee members estimate their recommended improvements will cost $44,930, a little less than the $50,000 commissioners budgeted for park renovations.

“I think you guys have done an amazing job,” resident Renae Ferguson said to committee members.

While some ideas, such as slightly expanding the park and adding a security system to limit the use of the park to dog owners who register their pets with the city, are still on the table, members of the public came up with their own list of park improvements they’d like to see.

Several people spoke up about the need for a splash pad for pets playing in the park during the hot summer months.

“The splash pad makes perfect sense,” park user Mary Miller said. “We live in Florida; it’s hot.”

Other recommendations from the public include the elimination of planned shrubs on the outside of the fence to block sound because the plants could block sight lines for park users and a net-like shield to block balls from entering the park from the adjacent baseball diamond. Users agreed they’d also like to see the large signs with park rules removed from inside wooden shelters where they say the signs block much-needed airflow.

Dog park user Don Anthony said if more funds were needed to make all the park improvements, he feels that dog park users will be willing to donate toward the project.

“The effort is there, and the money is there if we can be sure it goes to the dog park,” he said.

Closing the meeting, Linney thanked everyone for their comments and continued input throughout the planning process. “I hope you’ll all be there on Tuesday,” he said.

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