Early next year, Whitehall dog owners and their besties will have the opportunity to enjoy a new 2-acre dog park at Beechwood Road and Washburn Street, adjacent to Lamby Lane Park.

For now, however, they both enjoyed a little exercise and companionship at Whitehall's first Donuts & Dog Bones event, held Nov. 2 at Whitehall Community Park.

Whitehall planned the event to provide an opportunity for dog owners and their canine companions to socialize, but also to provide an update on continuing improvements at Whitehall Community Park, 402 N. Hamilton Road, and the city's plans for the dog park, said Caroline Carlisle, assistant program coordinator for the Whitehall Parks and Recreation Department.

About a dozen people enjoyed Krispy Kreme doughnuts before walking their dogs on a brisk but clear morning.

"I'm here because there are not a lot of parks where you can go everywhere with your dog," said Whitehall resident Roseann Hagerman.

Some parks prohibit dogs on sections of trails, Hagerman said.

Hagerman was at Donuts & Dog Bones with her 9-year-old Pomeranian mix, Foxy.

Jake Campbell, 24, also of Whitehall, recently moved to the city from Hilliard.

"I heard about it (on social media) and knew I wanted to come," said Campbell.

He said he was impressed by the growing number of programs in Whitehall as well as developments such as Norton Crossing, a mixed-use area under construction just south of Community Park.

Campbell was at Donuts & Dog Bones with his 3-year-old pit-bull mix, Bella, a dog he rescued from the Franklin County Dog Shelter.

"(Pit bulls) get a bad rap ... (Bella) has a great personality and I fell in love," Campbell said.

Besides enjoying a walk in the lower level of Whitehall Community Park, those who attended the event learned about a stream-restoration underway at the park and plans for a kayak launching pad on Big Walnut Creek.

The dog park, several miles southwest of Community Park, is slated to open next spring, Carlisle said.

The park will be built on 2.3 acres on the northeast corner of Beechwood Road and Washburn Street on land the city acquired at no cost.

Whitehall obtained it 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 it was demolished about 10 years ago, according to Woodruff.

Mayor Kim Maggard announced plans for the dog park in October 2018 but said the effort began two years earlier in response to resident surveys that indicated a desire for a dog park.

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 three other parks in addition to Community Park and Lamby Lane: Norton Field, John Bishop and Robinwood.