Whitehall officials asked for direction on the city's planned dog park -- and the area's pet owners delivered.
City leaders and staff members from EMH&T, an engineering and planning firm, will review input offered by Whitehall residents during a Feb. 13 gathering while moving forward with plans to construct the city's first park for dogs in 2020.
"We will take these fabulous ideas, massage them and then throw them back for further reaction" at the next planning session, said Jim Dziatkowicz, director of planning and landscape architecture for EMH&T.
A date for the next public planning session has yet to be scheduled, but Shannon Sorrell, Whitehall's director of parks and recreation, said it likely will be held in mid- to late March.
Meanwhile, the city already has tidied up the future site of the dog park, a 2.3-acre parcel at the northeast corner of Beechwood Road and Washburn Street, adjacent to Lamby Lane Park.
Several trees have been cleared from the site, and drainage issues will need to be addressed, Sorrell said.
The dog park will be built on land the city received at no cost.
Whitehall obtained it after the city foreclosed on property that failed to sell as a sheriff's auction, Development Director Zach Woodruff said.
The Franklin County land bank took ownership of the land and it eventually was made available to Whitehall, he said.
The two lots have been vacant since a residence was demolished about 10 years ago, Woodruff said.
Those who attended the Feb. 13 meeting were enthusiastic about the coming dog park.
"I'm excited and I love what I've heard so far," said Amanda Riddle, 41, of Elaine Road.
Riddle was one of about 20 residents who attended the gathering at Whitehall City Hall.
Schematics of several other central Ohio dog parks were on display as well as preliminary ideas for Whitehall's park.
Riddle said she takes her three dogs -- a pug mix, a Boston terrier and yorkie mix, and a Jack Russell-chihuahua mix -- to Pizzuro Park in Gahanna and sometimes Big Walnut Park in Columbus.
But she said she's looking forward to having a dog park close by.
"My dogs get so spastic if I drive more than 10 minutes," Riddle said.
Details of Whitehall's dog park are still in the making, but Sorrell said the city "is committed to creating a quality dog park" that might require being completed in phases.
About $90,000 is being set aside for design and engineering in 2019.
Construction of the dog park is not scheduled to begin until 2020, Sorrell said.
During the Feb. 13 meeting, residents discussed how best to partition the park for use by dogs of different sizes, ages, abilities and natures, as well as a feces-disposal system that could include underground holding tanks to mitigate odor.
The dog park likely will be staffed by city employees until a "proper culture" is established and patrons can self-police, Sorrell said.
Ryan and Shyan Atkins, who live on Medway Avenue, said they take their Doberman Pinscher to Highbanks Metro Park in north Columbus or Hoover Reservoir in Blendon Township.
"I like the natural look our park should have with the trees and open spaces," Shyan Atkins said.
Whitehall Mayor Kim Maggard announced plans for the dog park in October but said the effort began two years ago in response to surveys from residents who indicated a desire for a dog park in the city.
The new park will be the first in Whitehall in almost five decades.
Whitehall last obtained land for the purpose of a public park when Lamby Lane Park opened in 1972, Woodruff said.
Whitehall has four other parks: Whitehall Community Park, Norton Field Park, John Bishop Park and Robinwood Park.
"I'm glad to see we are keeping the ball rolling along and moving forward" with the dog park, said John Fetters, chairman of the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Commission.