By Gary Budzak
Blue Limestone Park has officially emerged as the Dog Park Planning Committee’s top choice for a potential dog park in the city of Delaware.
The committee last week voted 7-1 to make Blue Limestone its official choice, with the second choice being Mill Run Crossing (the Wetlands Park), and a property at Curve Road the third choice. The committee will next make a formal recommendation to City Council, which will make a decision on the matter.
The committee was formed last year to pick a potential site, and has looked at more than 10 city-owned and private properties over the past several months. Committee members were asked by city officials to provide their top three choices. The committee’s three choices are on city-owned land, which would be cheaper than purchasing private property.
Committee members praised Blue Limestone for its central location and because it already has amenities. They said the other two locations are distant and would be cost-prohibitive to build amenities.
The city has offered to provide $75,000 for the park. Committee members have said that amount may not even pay for a fence to surround the separate walkways for small and large dogs. The committee is exploring fund-raising options and sponsorships for the park.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, two people spoke in favor of dog parks in general. They said that dogs don’t fight or bark when they’re in the park, they just play and run around together.
No one spoke against dog parks or Blue Limestone Park as a potential choice.
Councilman Joe DiGenova, who serves on the committee, said that during a recent tour of the city, a majority of council members expressed their concern with a dog park in Blue Limestone Park. “They just want it to stay the way it is,” DiGenova said.
However, committee members stood firm in their support of Blue Limestone.
Vice-Chair Don Shannon said Blue Limestone has been under-utilized since the ball fields were removed. Member Ken Guenther said he has been to the park at various times over a period of several days in June, and he counted only three people in attendance at any given time.
“Blue Limestone Park fits all the requirements (for a dog park) and is the most economically feasible,” Guenther said, prior to making the motion in support of the three choices.
Before their vote, the committee said they would no longer consider the wastewater plant at Cherry St. for a potential dog park, despite it being favored as a top choice by some council members. The committee was concerned about the road noise and smell at the location, as well as the amount of cleanup required at the site.
“Cherry Street is a brownfield,” said local resident Tom Wolber, who spoke at the meeting. “Re-seeding it would not be sufficient. It is unsafe for dogs and children.”
Before adjourning, committee members were encouraged to attend a Recreation Levy Projects Update from 6 to 8 p.m. June 30 at the Delaware Community Center YMCA, 1121 S. Houk Rd. Residents may attend the open house to hear about projects the city has undertaken from the passage of the 2008 Parks and Recreation Levy.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.