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Several locations being eyed for Berkeley County dog park

March 24, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthew.umstead@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Fencing has been obtained, but the location for what would be Berkeley County’s first dog park has yet to be finalized.

Ambrose Park in Martinsburg is being eyed for the project, and Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board Executive Director R. Stephen “Steve” Catlett told board members other locations are being explored.

Recreation officials received interest from residents who indicated they take their animals to the dog park at Jim Barnett Park in Winchester, Va.,

There are no public dog parks in Hagerstown or Washington County, Md., but a proposal for a dog park in Hagerstown’s north end has been proposed.

The Borough of Waynesboro, Pa.’s Northside Dog Park, apparently one of the only other parks for canines in the region, opened last year. 

Catlett told board members last week that he acquired 1,000 square feet of chain-link fence for $1,800 and believes the fencing will be enough for the city-county recreation system’s first dog park.

Catlett said last month that dog parks are “the hottest thing going” in public recreation, and a study by The Trust for Public Land appears to indicate as much, at least in larger cities.

“There has been a substantial increase in dog parks - the number grew by 34 percent in the past five years, based on data from 55 cities that provided consistent information during that time period,” said Ryan Donahue, research director for the trust’s Center for City Park Excellence.

In the nation’s 100 largest cities surveyed by the trust, the total number of dog parks last year was 569, according to figures’ that Donahue released last week. 

“The motivating factor is basically just growing demand — for many people living in cities, having places for their dogs to play is as important as having places for children to play,” Donahue said when asked about the growth.

“Nationally, there are more households with dogs than with children in the country, so there’s a strong and large constituency for dog parks. There’s a lot of recognition of the social value of dog parks, in that they give people a chance to socialize while their dogs play.”

When asked about whether dog parks are taking up space that would otherwise be used for other forms of recreation, Donahue said it’s hard to say.

“For some cities, dog parks are fully fenced-off areas exclusively for the use of dogs/owners. For others, they’re just open parts of parks that are available for off-leash use.”

In Washington, D.C., Donahue said several recreation centers have converted part of their property to dog parks that are maintained by nonprofit dog owners groups.

In Waynesboro, a one-time fee of $5 per dog is assessed for use of the half-acre dog park, which was built near Northside Pool with chain-link fencing that provides sections for large dogs and small dogs. 

A portion of Mills Park in Hagerstown’s North End was being considered for an off-leash dog park, but the proposal did not come to fruition.

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