Civic Center dog park project moves forward with new location

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 5, 2018

SALISBURY — Nick Aceves says the plan for a Civic Center dog park has been on his desk since he became director of the city’s Parks and Recreation Department.

After a recent meeting and a lot of fundraising by the organization Dog PAWS, Aceves said the project is finally moving forward.

Aceves said at Tuesday’s City Council meeting that since 2012, the plan has been to put the dog park at the corner of South Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Bank Street.

“One big issue that I had with that site from Day 1 was the location right next to kind of a major road with a lot of traffic that can pick up speed. Having children right there, a dog getting away, a child chasing after the dog going toward Martin Luther King (Jr. Boulevard,)” Aceves said.

Aceves said his team met several weeks ago and decided to replace one of two clay tennis courts behind the Civic Center with the dog park.

Moving the park behind the Civic Center will increase safety, Aceves said.

“And this just presents a better option. One, because the clay courts are scarcely used currently,” Aceves said. “They require a lot of water and a lot of staff maintenance and currently need some upgrades at the facility.”

Aceves and landscape architect Stephen Brown said Dog PAWS, an organization headed by Theresa Pitner, has raised just over $13,000 for the project so far.

Brown said that money will go toward about 480 feet of new fencing, which — when combined with the 500 feet of fencing the city can repurpose from the tennis court — would give the city 980 feet of fencing for the dog park.

Aceves said Pitner has “done an outstanding job” raising money for the project.

“We’ve partnered with her for special events, but she’s done a lot on her own,” Aceves said.

Once the park is fenced off and the clay court is removed, potential investors will have a better idea of what the park will look like, he said.

“And as Theresa’s said before many times to us, she has now something that she can sell to add amenities to,” Aceves said.

The total cost is expected to be $58,000. Brown said that after the fencing is put in, the rest of the money raised will go toward things like trees, benches, trash cans and a brick plaza.

Brown said the nearly 1-acre park will have separate spaces for small and large dogs, have a sally-gate system and be an off-leash area.

Mayor Al Heggins asked if dog owners would be required to provide documentation to show that their pets have all their vaccinations.

Aceves said yes, and that a keycard system will eventually be put in place for verified owners to have access to the park.

Mayor Pro Tem David Post said he had played tennis on the Civic Center’s clay courts before.

“And I think that’s a great repurposing because right now, for anybody who hits a tennis ball, they’re not usable, the tennis courts,” Post said. “So it’s unusable property for the city right now.”

Councilwoman Karen Alexander said she thinks the area is much safer for dogs, children and families than the previously proposed location.

“So it’s a great reuse — recycle — of property and resources,” Alexander said.

Councilwoman Tamara Sheffield said she thinks Salisbury “deserves a dog park.”

“It allows you to learn how to navigate space with other people in it,” Sheffield said. “It’s a great place to exchange community information between other citizens that you may not ever meet. It’s a great way to extend human relationships even outside of this dog park.”

For information about the dog park fundraising effort, go to dogpawsnc.webs.com.

Contact reporter Jessica Coates at 704-797-4222.

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