City gives two paws up for dog park

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 3, 2012

By Emily Ford
SALISBURY — Pooches will have their own park in Salisbury, City Council agreed Tuesday.
A volunteer group led by Theresa Pitner and Jon Cerny will work with the Parks and Recreation Department to create the city’s first dog park – with separate areas for chihuahua-sized dogs and Laborador-sized dogs – behind Office Depot at the Civic Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue.
“This is exciting,” City Manager Doug Paris said. “It’s important that our first dog park is successful.”
Far from just cordoning off an area and letting any dog run loose inside, the dog park has a $45,000 price tag including an entry system with electronic card reader, water and electric installations, benches, water fountain, dog waste stations, trash cans and grass.
Volunteers will raise the money for construction by selling advertising space on fences and offering sponsorships for benches and other park features, as well as hosting events like dog washes.
Several businesses already have raised a paw to help, including Lazy 5 Vets.
“We think it is an excellent idea and would like to help financially all that we can to get this going,” practice manager Scott Julian said.
The park will open at 8 a.m. year-round and close at 7:30 or 8:30 p.m., depending on the season, said Stephen Brown, maintenance manager for Parks and Rec.
Organizers will train volunteers to monitor the park and educate dog owners about rules and etiquette.
“We want to make sure people are aware of what’s going on and how to safely inhabit the park with their dogs ” Cerny said.
Rules include:
• No children under age 12.
• No eating in the park for both dogs and owners. Training treats are OK.
• No more than three dogs per adult.
• Keep your dog within sight and voice control.
• Walk your dog along the perimeter of the park before entering the first time.
Fido must be registered with Parks and Rec for his owner to receive an entrance key and information packet. He also must be licensed and current on rabies and DHLPP vaccines.
The city will charge a nominal fee for an entrance key for anyone living outside the city limits, Brown said. City residents can use the park for free, although replacement key cards will cost a few bucks.
Parks and Rec will be able to deactivate the card of any user who brings an aggressive dog to the park, Brown said.
“It will be self-policing,” he said.
Volunteers will raise the $3,500 a year it will take to maintain the park. A second construction phase worth $16,000 will include concrete play tubes, an additional water fountain, more trash cans and benches and shade trees.
Councilwoman Maggie Blackwell praised Cerny, who serves on the city’s Community Appearance Commission, and Pitner, a leader in the Fulton Heights neighborhood.
“We have two excellent people in front of us who will stick with it and see it through,” Blackwell said.
The dog park partnership between the city and residents is based on a similar arrangement several years ago that resulted in Centennial Park in Fulton Heights.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.