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Emmitsburg officially going to the dogs!

Danielle Ryan

(12/26) The Town Board of Commissioners has finally approved a project that has been in the works for almost a year. The town has officially found a suitable location for the dog park, a project that has been contended by community members for several months.

Since the Board last discussed the project, Town Manager Cathy Willets and Town Planner Sue Cipperly continued to look at new locations that would correct the concerns of the public while satisfying the criteria for the park. During the August meeting, Commissioner Cliff Sweeney recommended town staff look at the wooded area behind the tennis courts in Community Park. This location already has an area for parking, a source for the water hook-up is available, and the location is right off of the existing walking path.

The proposed dog park would be approximately 150 feet by 50 feet wide, although these dimensions are still being evaluated, and will be divided into two areas to accommodate both large and small dogs. An entry chamber with a two-door security system would be included on each side to help prevent escapes while accessing the site. Each side would have amenities such as a drinking fountain, waste station, benches, and a sand area. The fence would be about five feet tall and the area would be surrounded by trees to allow for a noise barrier, shade and some privacy.

After visiting the location, Willets and Cipperly recommended the Board approve the location. People already use the walking paths to walk their dogs in this area, so placing the dog park in this area would allow additional "free space" for the dogs to run around and interact with other dogs.

Willets noted that the town has already received a $13,500 Project Open Space Grant, and if they intend to build the park, they must move on the project soon, so they don’t lose the money. This proposed location has been open to public comment for two months on the town website and the town’s Facebook page. No comments were received during this period of time.

Cipperly discussed the funds for the dog park. The approximate cost of the dog park is $20,000 - $21,000. After subtracting the grant money, the total that remains is about $7,000. In the Gettysburg and Biglerville dog parks, residents and local veterinary practices have donated almost everything within the parks. Cipperly mentioned that the town could consider reaching out to residents to volunteer their time to help raise funds for the additional cost or reach out to local businesses to donate funds. Commissioner Sweeney seemed confident that members of the community will actively donate remaining items including benches, water fountains for the dogs, pet waste stations etc.

Commissioner Elizabeth Buckman noted that she has heard many positive responses from the public. Many residents she spoke to said that they like this location. There won’t be a noise issue, or safety issue, as the location will be located away from residential areas housing families. Commissioner Tim O’Donnell spoke to Mr. Burns, the President of the Southgate Homeowners Association, as well as members of the Parks and Recreation Committee, and all noted their approval of the location. Many residents are enthusiastic about the new location for the dog park.

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