The Gahanna Parks and Recreation Department is expanding the dog park at Pizzurro Park.

The Gahanna Parks and Recreation Department is expanding the dog park at Pizzurro Park.

In addition, as it turns out, the current dog park has been beneficial in keep crime down, according to police Deputy Chief Ken Bell. Residents walking their dogs at the park apparently have deterred those who otherwise would loiter in the area, possibly for unlawful activities.

"Since the dog park started operations, we have seen a significant drop in calls for suspicious persons or activity occurring in the park," Bell said, adding that the consistency of dog walkers at the park seems to have kept criminals away.

"At any time of the daylight hours there are people down there with their dogs," he said. "In the first weeks of operation, we were receiving calls for service reference -- mostly minor dog- and/or people-related issues. As time has passed and the users have become accustomed to the rules and operations, our calls have dropped off considerably."

Bell said the police department gets fewer calls now.

He also credited a group of volunteers who monitor the park's use and generally resolve any minor issues that occur.

Those volunteers soon could have more to watch, though.

Troy Euton, deputy director of parks and recreation, outlined completed and proposed improvements during the Feb. 25 Gahanna planning commission meeting. He said the dog park, which was opened at Hanna Park in July 2005, was moved to Pizzurro Park in the fall last year. Then the department developed a large open area for dogs, an agility area and an area for small dogs. Crews installed a walking trail to provide paved access into the dog area and a collector path for those entering from the parking lot.

The department proposes to provide additional fenced areas for large dogs to play, access for dog owners to the Big Walnut Creek and install another playground at the park.

Planning commission member Dave Thom asked about restroom facilities.

Euton said temporary restrooms are there now, and they will be kept there throughout the year. Water and sewer lines aren't installed near the park yet, he said.

As future development occurs in the area, such as the proposed extension of Tech Center Drive, those lines would become available.

Euton said the department plans to extend a water line from Hamilton Road to provide drinking water during the warm months.

In response to a question from commission chairman Frank O'Hare, Euton said two fenced-in areas are provided for the dogs to be let off their leashes.

The park also has a fenced-in area for smaller dogs.

Euton said a dog-park advisory board meets regularly to stay atop the issues that come up with the dog park.

Lynne Vermillion, who takes her dog to the park, said the current location is "widely successful and draws people from all over Franklin County."

A a dog park in a community is a draw for homeowners as a quality-of-life issue, she said.

"The dog park has provided a sense of community for individuals who are not involved in the myriad of school or youth projects that link other citizens," she said.