Whitehall leaders are working to make sure they've heard every last opinion, suggestion and morsel of advice before they move forward on the design of the city's dog park.
Officials are using such events as the city's "park parties" to solicit public input toward the construction of the dog park at the northwest corner of Beechwood Road and Washburn Street, slated to open next year.
"This fall, we will be developing a design with EMH&T and a budget for the project," said Shannon Sorrell, director of the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Department.
About $90,000 is being set aside for design and engineering in 2019, but construction of the dog park is not scheduled to begin until 2020, Sorrell said.
Whitehall officials and staff members from EMH&T, an engineering and planning firm, are reviewing input from residents while moving forward with plans to construct the park.
Previous meetings have spurred myriad suggestions from dog owners, including requests for natural play elements, a path system, restrooms and water fountains, a splash pad for pets, benches, adequate drainage, artificial turf in some areas, shade trees, separate areas for big and small dogs, and access from the Beechwood Road sidewalk.
Officials are collecting such information wherever possible, Sorrell said, including informally at the park parties, the most recent of which was held June 12 at Norton Field Park.
The next park party is set from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. July 10 at Lamby Lane Park; it'll have a "Down on the Farm" theme, with a petting zoo, a chain-saw artist, food, a bounce house and live music.
The city also has played host to formal events to gather input, most recently June 5 at Victory Ministries, 3964 E. Main St.
Jim Dziatkowicz, director of planning and landscape architecture for EMH&T, said his firm would use the input in the planning stages.
The park will be built on 2.3 acres adjacent to Lamby Lane Park, land the city acquired at no cost.
Whitehall obtained the plot after foreclosing on property that failed to sell at 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 at no cost, he said.
The two lots have been vacant since a residence on them was demolished about 10 years ago, according to Woodruff.
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 would 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.
To offer suggestions on the dog park, view previous comments and view a timeline for the project, visit tinyurl.com/whitehalldogpark.