Town to weigh in on dog park feasibility

by Kelly Corbett
Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Staff photo by Joshua Curry

The Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee is discussing the possibility of creating a dog park on a 1-acre piece of town property along Salisbury Street within the town municipal complex.

After hearing from four local experts on dog parks, the Wrightsville Beach Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee is seeking additional input from town staff about the feasibility of the additional town amenity.

Chairman Greg Files said he wants to hear more about police surveillance, stormwater runoff, maintenance, the cost of maintenance along with other factors.

“I still have questions,” Files said. “I would like to find out if there’s an additional cost of insurance to the town.”

Committee members, all present at the meeting, heard the perspectives from four experts — Tara Duckworth, New Hanover County Parks and Gardens Director; Nina Johnston, City of Wilmington Parks and Urban Forestry Superintendent; Jim Northrop, who has worked with dog parks for 16 years and is a member of the Wilmington Dog Park Committee; and Dr. Iva Nusbaum, doctor of veterinarian medicine at North College Road Animal Hospital — for an hour during the committee’s Dec. 2 meeting.

Nusbaum mentioned the risks of infections and diseases spreading within a dog park located on an island. While a rabies vaccine is required, she said there are other infections and viral diseases transmitted from dog to dog.

“It’s kind of like day care for your children,” Duckworth said.

Northrop told the committee about his experiences with dog parks in Portland, Maine, and in Empie Park in Wilmington.

“You have to decide whether it’s something you want to support in your community,” Northrop said. “It really is more of a philosophical leap for you than a financial leap.”

He said that a dog park is another aspect of the park system, which is a part of the community where people can meet people with similar interests.

“Breaking barriers is a good thing,” Northrop said.

Member Charlotte Murchison received a preliminary estimate of $11,585 from Port City Fencing for 5-foot, vinyl-coated fencing with tension wire near the bottom of the fence and three gates. She said they would have to do an actual design to get a closer estimate.

“Do we have enough space to even consider it?” Murchison said about the possible 1-acre location in the town municipal complex that would allow one-fourth of an acre for small dogs and three-fourths of an acre for large dogs.

The proposed location is currently used by town maintenance and is a back entrance for the public safety facility.

Files said there is not a set schedule for the committee to decide whether to send a recommendation to the board of aldermen. The committee will resume the discussion during its January meeting.

There will soon be an advertisement going out for two committee positions, the seats of Trish Green and Charlotte Murchison. Both women are eligible to apply for reappointment to the committee.


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