tampabay.com

Gulfport to welcome dog park

The dog park at Chase Park will open Saturday, with areas for big animals and little ones.

By FRANKIE HOWLEY
Published March 19, 2006


GULFPORT - After three years of planning and 31/2 months of construction, a place for dogs to romp is now just a walk in the park.

"The idea is that we will have two separate entities," said Jim O'Reilly, Gulfport's director of leisure services. "We will be giving neighbors and residents two big back yards for their dogs to run in."

The city will dedicate the Chase Park Dog Park at 10 a.m. Saturday at 54th Street S and 28th Avenue, the former home of the Gulfport shuffleboard club.

"We will have an introduction to City Council and the development of the park, as well as special treats for local dogs," O'Reilly said.

Inspired to develop a park where residents could escape the parameters of small residential lots and let their dogs run free, parks and leisure services staffers began work in December.

Two 800-by-200-foot parks were designed to separate dogs according to size. The team also renovated the site.

"It took us three months to make restorations to the old shuffleboard building," said City Manager Tom Brobeil. "We renovated the bathrooms, removed the shuffleboard courts and added grass, fencing, furnishings and signage."

The group also included drinking fountains (at dog and people levels), benches, agility equipment and scooper supplies.

A $50,000 grant from the Florida Recreation and Development Assistance Program went toward the $67,000 total cost.

Choosing the right spot wasn't easy.

It was "a controversial issue that held a lot of public interest," Brobeil said. "The site was selected because Chase Park was central to the city and there were institutional uses on either side of it. Having single-family residents on only one side will create less of a disturbance."

Also reining in problems are rules for hours, the expected behavior of dogs and their owners, and general upkeep of the park.

"There are two facets," O'Reilly said. "It gives dogs the opportunity to run and play leash-free, and it provides a place for residents to congregate socially."

CHASE PARK DOG PARK RULES

Hours: 7 a.m. to dusk. Park closes at dark.

Animals other than dogs are not allowed.

All dogs must be legally licensed with current vaccinations and shall wear a visible license tag.

Dog owners are responsible for the actions of their dogs.

Female dogs in heat are prohibited.

Dogs that have been declared dangerous or aggressive are prohibited.

Keep small children and infants under strict supervision.

Droppings must be cleaned up by the dog owner and put in marked receptacles.

Dog owners must be in fenced areas and within the unobstructed sight of their dog(s), which must be under visual or oral commands when not on leash.

Owners must immediately fill any holes their dog(s) dig.

Dogs must be leashed when entering and exiting this park.

Dog owners must have a leash in hand at all times.

No smoking or food in the fenced area.