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A $4,000 donation could be used for a much-requested park for dogs.
By JODIE TILLMAN
Published July 11, 2007
NEW PORT RICHEY - Dog lovers started hounding the city a couple of years ago.
When - WHEN - will the city get a dog park?
"We've had quite a few requests for one," said Parks and Recreation director Elaine Smith.
Now, with a $4,000 donation in hand, the city might be the closest it's ever been to opening one.
Officials are looking at a couple of locations, primarily a field at the city-owned Meadows Park on Larch Lane, which is off Cecilia Drive.
Leashed dogs are allowed at the Cotee River Park and around Orange Lake, but this would be the first New Port Richey park where pooches could play without a leash.
With all the talk of reducing local budgets, a dog park likely would not pass muster as an essential service. But Smith said she won't be asking the city for any extra dollars other than some use of staff time for the park's construction.
Using the $4,000 donation from Community Hospital Volunteers group, the city expects to have enough money to install the fencing, which would need to include separate areas for large and small dogs, Smith said. Recreation department workers would put up the fencing.
Other necessary amenities, including dog water fountains, benches and pooper-scooper bags, would be paid for with other donations, she said. The city has been talking with Gulf High School, which might have some additional funding through a student volunteer project, Smith said.
She said city employees plan to talk with Meadows Park neighbors in the coming days to see what they think of a dog park.
Another location under consideration is a former dump site owned by the city on Indiana Avenue.
City Council members would make the final decision.
Councilman Bob Consalvo, the former parks and recreation director, said the city had discussed a few years ago turning a 10-acre parcel on the west end of the city into a dog park. But he noted that using an existing park, which has parking, rest rooms and regular maintenance, would save money.
"I think the Meadows Park would be a good location," he said.
Council member Marilynn deChant said a dog park has fallen off the agenda in recent years as other bigger issues dominated the council's attention. But a dog park is a quality-of-life matter that many people care about, she said.
"I think people would love having a place that is safe and maintained for their animals," she said.