Dog walkers earn small victory

February 14, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

In their quest to open a Hagerstown park to canines, dog lovers got a leg up Thursday from the city's advisory board for parks and recreation, which agreed to recommend a fenced dog-walking area at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds.

"This is a trial," said Doug Stull, Hagerstown recreation manager. "It will be the first time - there are no pets allowed in any city parks now."

At their regular monthly meeting Thursday at the Western Maryland Hospital Center, advisory board members were shown two proposed dog-walking areas within the perimeter of the fairgrounds.


All members agreed that an elongated, boot-shaped tract proposed along the rear of the skating rink that parallels the driveway through the park was preferable to a square section that cuts through the heart of the park.

The proposal now will go before the Hagerstown Mayor and City Council for consideration.

Each area would require additional fencing to segregate the dog-walking areas from the rest of the park, Stull said.

In the case of the boot-shaped tract, 627 feet of 6-foot chain-link fence would be needed to join with existing fencing along private property that abuts the park, Stull said.

The square section measures 483 feet and would entail all new fencing.

At the rate of $10 a foot, the costs would be $6,270 for the boot-shaped tract and $4,830 for the square section, Stull said.

Board member John Ziegler said he favored the elongated tract since it would be in an area that probably wouldn't ever be used for anything else.

"I think the second recommendation is almost a joke - you couldn't get a good walk in there," said board member Bob Rankin.

Stull said another bonus with the elongated tract would be the ease in joininig eventually with Pangborn Park, which isn't far from the fairgrounds' outer perimeter.

Board members agreed that strict rules for the use of the dog-walking area would be required once the area is opened.

Among those proposed requirements were:

  • A 6-foot leash limit

  • Pet owners must clean up after pet

  • Park hours would apply to dog-walking area

  • All dogs must be registered before using the facility

While the vote was unanimous to open only the designated area to dogs for now, Hagerstown Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said he hopes more might be available to pet owners in the future if all goes well.

"I urge that this board not close the door on eventually opening up the walking trail to dogs, too," Hendershot said.

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