HOLMES BEACH – Dog park users are feeling a bit better about the future of their pooches’ beloved outdoor space after hearing plans for the park from City Engineer Lynn Burnett.
After a misstep the week before, Burnett and Eron Wasserman from LTA Engineers met with more than a dozen interested community members during an emergency Parks and Beautification Committee meeting held at Holmes Beach City Hall. Burnett assured attendees that while some projects in the city field complex, such as the skate park, seem to be moving forward more quickly than others, there is no priority for these other projects over the planned dog park improvements.
Currently, she said demolition of the former tot lot and the skate park is in progress, followed by the relocation of the construction area in the parking area on the northeast side of the complex to the site of the former skate park near public works. The next step forward for the city field complex is to begin grading, drainage and resloping work to improve drainage in the area. During this phase, Burnett said the clay will be removed from the current baseball diamond and, once drainage work is complete, the new surfaces for the dog park will be installed. While some of the drainage and resurfacing is done, she added that the new and current dog parks will be closed due to the fencing having to be removed for a period of about 45 days. The dates that the dog park will be closed have yet to be determined though drainage and resurfacing work is expected to take place beginning in June and continue through August.
In the last 30 days of construction, currently planned for late August and September, Burnett said community members will really see the dog park begin to take shape as the ground cover is laid, fencing is put back up, shade structures are constructed, benches placed, trees planted and other elements are placed in the new park. A soft opening for the new and improved dog park is currently planned for some time in October.
Dog park users seemed pleased with the plan, with some offering suggestions including where to place the four access points planned to the park, one on each side of the fencing, how to place pathways for easy access by handicapped visitors and extending the fence between the small and large dog parks by about eight feet into the planned large dog park to give the small dogs a little more play area. The proposed expansion of the small dog park also would give Burnett the opportunity to relocate the shade structure in the small dog park to allow pet parents to view their dogs playing along the common fence line. Burnett said the shade structure in the large dog park will likely be replaced rather than moved to the new park location because she said moving it would cost more money and would damage the structure.
She recommended using both grass and a shell and sand mixture recommended by the parks and beautification committee for ground cover in the large dog park. Attendees agreed to the idea, but some were concerned that grass in some areas would be worn away by frequent use even with irrigation in the park.
In the future, Burnett said that more public meetings would be held for updates on improvements as the project progresses, beginning with the capital improvement plan update planned to be presented during a future city commission budget work session.