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Dog park plan gets cool reception from Hagerstown City Council

Most members were against the Fairgrounds Park location

April 02, 2013|By HOLLY SHOK | holly.shok@herald-mail.com

A task force working to find a location for an off-leash dog park in Hagerstown unveiled a concept for Fairgrounds Park with a proposed late June opening, but the Hagerstown City Council was not entirely in support of the site Tuesday.

The task force presented the final report with the intent that the five-member city council would vote to approve the location at the April 23 meeting. But after more than an hour of discussion, Mayor David S. Gysberts said the issue will be discussed again at an upcoming work session.

Maria Mestre, chairperson of the six-member task force, detailed a concept costing $56,000 at Fairgrounds Park, which, in addition to City Park and Hager Park, was one of three top contenders.

City Park was the task force’s No. 1 choice on paper, but an estimated cost of $90,000, in addition to renderings of the park’s layout, led the group to choose Fairgrounds Park.

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“For the difference in these two prices, for me, if we’re going to build a park and it’s going to be a permanent park to service our citizens, I would like to do two things: One, I would like to build a park at the best location. Two, I would like to build a park at a location that would be the least problematic for neighbors,” Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said, referring to City Park.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh, who said she has four dogs, supports a dog park, but not at Fairgrounds Park.

“The thing that concerns me the most is because it is a very active park at Fairgrounds,” Nigh said.

“You’ve got kids that have utilized this area over there ... This is a park where kids in the neighborhood can actually play.”

Nigh said she was interested in more information about the South Walnut Street location, but according to the task force’s report, the site was not seriously studied because landowner Norfolk Southern Railroad did not show interest in selling the property.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue, one of the task force’s nonvoting members, said he would reach out again to the railroad company.

Councilman Martin E. Brubaker expressed interest in again exploring Hager Park, which Tissue said originally was ruled out as it is utilized for Little League Baseball and the site of a proposed community garden.

Councilman Kristin B. Aleshire was the most in support of the Fairgrounds Park concept, but he expressed concerns regarding the proximity of the park’s fence lines to neighboring properties.

Councilman Donald F. Munson expressed concern regarding noise, clean-up and dog fights.

A concept plan for Fairgrounds Park shows a small-dog area of .70 acres and a large-dog area of 1.06 acres. The task force’s report lists the start-up cost for “essential” items as $39,318.

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