Delaware News

City mines Worthington leaders for dog-park advice

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LORRIE CECIL/THISWEEKNEWS
Dani Bigham throws the frisbee for Woody, a 1-year-old black lab, as they play in the snow last month at the Alum Creek Dog Park in Lewis Center. The city of Delaware is exploring the possibility of building its own dog park.
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By ThisWeek Community News  • 

Delaware's Dog Park Planning Committee asked its neighbors to the south for advice on what the city's future dog park should look like.

The committee met Dec. 19 with Darren Hurley, Worthington's parks director, who offered insight into the transformation of an undeveloped city-owned property into Godown Dog Park.

Hurley said Worthington did not have the funding to develop the parcel on its own, so it partnered with the city of Columbus, which wanted a dog park for residents of the northern portion of the city to use. Columbus designed the park -- which opened in July 2012 -- and paid $250,000 for the development, while Worthington agreed to shoulder a majority of the operating costs.

Hurley said the city went with the undeveloped parcel because most of its existing park land already had set recreational uses, such as athletic fields and bike paths. He said using an already-developed portion of land would have freed up a lot of the project's budget.

Dan Whited, Delaware's assistant city manager, said the city's dog park likely would be located on a developed piece of property because of expected budget constraints.

Hurley said Worthington's partnership with the group WOOF, or Worthington Organized Off-leash Friends, also was key to making the park a success. He said the nonprofit group pushed for the park initially, did research, raised funds then helped write and enforce the rules of the park.

Jennifer Lyon, past president of WOOF, told the committee what features the group's research suggested every dog park should have.

She said the park should be a minimum of 3 acres, with good drainage, fencing at least 4 feet tall, and have separate areas for large and small dogs.

"Bigger is better in terms of wear and tear, but it's also better because of safety," she said.

She said double-gated entries, which prevent dogs from rushing out when a visitor leaves, are a must. She also suggested walking paths as well as water fountains for dogs and humans.

Hurley said covered trash cans and dog-waste stations also are key features, adding those two components are the biggest maintenance issues and budget items for Godown Dog Park.

He said Delaware's committee and parks department would have to make a choice between buying large amounts of waste-disposal bags or having workers spend more time cleaning up waste.

"That is the biggest single cost at our park," Hurley said of the bags.

He said the city spends up to $900 per month on plastic gloves for park users.

Hurley said the costs aren't surprising because of the amount of traffic the park sees. He said it's not unusual for the park's 50 parking spots to be filled.

"Per acre or per foot, it is by far the most-used park land we have," he said.

That leads to increased supply costs and the need for maintenance workers to make trash runs to the dog park more often than some of the city's other parks.

Hurley said the efforts of WOOF have made the experience of running the park go smoothly. He said the group can raise funds for new amenities, such as a dog wash station, that would take longer for the city to approve and install on its own.

After the presentation on Godown Park, committee member Lori Midkiff suggested she and the other committee members tour possible park sites owned by the city of Delaware. Whited said the city's administration would create a list of potential properties for the committee to inspect.

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