Whitehall residents looking for a little outdoor fun with their canine friends in 2020 may be out of luck.
Planned construction of Whitehall's first dog park, adjacent to Lamby Lane Park, has been delayed indefinitely because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and the associated economic blow, officials said.
The park had been slated to open in 2020.
"While the city originally planned to proceed with the much-anticipated dog-park project in 2020, the project has been deferred due to the economic impact that COVID-19 has already had on city finances," said Megan Meyer, community affairs manager for Whitehall.
It is not clear when the project, which had advanced into the design and engineering phases, will resume, but the city indicated it will be as soon as possible.
"As the city recovers from lost revenue, we look forward to getting back to work on the project," Meyer said.
The city budgeted $90,000 in 2019 for EMH&T to perform design and engineering work.
Thus far, about $58,000 has been invested in the project, including the design and engineering contract with EMH&T, the planning firm that helped the city review input from residents as the details of the park were developed, Meyer said.
The budget for fiscal year 2020, ending June 30, originally included an additional $250,000 for the park's construction, Meyer said.
Plans call for the dog park to be built on 2.3 acres on the northeast corner of Beechwood Road and Washburn Street, adjacent to Lamby Lane Park, that the city acquired at no cost.
Whitehall obtained the land after foreclosing on property that failed to sell as a sheriff's auction, according to development director Zach Woodruff.
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, Woodruff said.
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 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.