Levy Court to consider funding Little Creek dog park

 

DOVER — After a presentation by Little Creek Mayor Glenn Gauvry and other town officials and residents during the Kent County Levy Court’s committee meeting on Tuesday night, commissioners agreed to add funding a dog park to their new business agenda for June 13.

Little Creek, a town of about 225 people, recently completed planning the dog park on a small piece of town-owned parkland just south of the post office.

Town representatives had already posed the idea to Levy Court in April and asked for funding. At the time, they were told to plan it, seek support and suggestions from residents and return to the court with a detailed pitch.

Mayor Gauvry said they received a fairly large crowd at a May 24 public workshop the town held to discuss the project.

“I was kind of surprised to see so many people there — not just residents, but people for the general area,” he told the committee. “So I sort of just started by asking if there was anyone opposed to it, but no one said they were, so that was encouraging.”

Although the town is small, residents feel that the dog park may act as a community meeting place and help draw more attention to the area.

“We recently updated our comprehensive management plan, and as part of that, I sent out a questionnaire,” said Mayor Gauvry. “One of the things the community said they’d like to see done is finding a use for that park. Right now it’s manicured, but it doesn’t get used very often. We had a volunteer firefighter pose the idea of a dog park, and we thought that it might fit really nicely there.”

Mayor Gauvry selected a 150-foot by 130-foot section of the park that the town would fence off. He said a fact-finding missions to both Tidbury Park and the Milford Dog Park earlier in the month helped him build a template of the project’s scope.

The detailed plan he presented to the Levy Court put the expenses at nearly $35,000 and included a concrete sidewalk and entry pad, fencing, benches, trash cans and existing fence renovations around the town’s parkland. The Little Creek volunteer fire department has offered to pay for and install two water pumps for patrons to use and the town said they’d provide signage. Additionally, the town would plan to take responsibility for maintaining the park once it’s complete. However, because of the town’s small amount of revenue, matching any funds the county may provide would likely not be possible, said Mayor Gauvry.

Several commissioners expressed support for the idea, but concerns about continued maintenance and other liabilities were raised.

Commissioner Eric Buckson said that his concern lied with setting a precedent whereby applicants seeking county funds for community projects don’t need to become equal “financial partners” to get them.

“I often have requests from my district to fund certain things like this, and every single time we’ve had to make it clear that they had to be a partner financially,” he said. “We find a way to blend the approach and match contributions. I just want to make sure we’re not opening a door we can’t close. For instance, with Bowers Beach Maritime Museum, we required them to come up with X amount of dollars before we matched the funds, so by doing this, what are we going to tell other parties trying to fund projects?”

Were the project to be funded, Kent County Administrator Michael Petit de Mange noted that the money would come out of an account known as the community assistance fund — which currently has a balance of approximately $600,000.

If the project receives funding, it’ll be the latest in a consistent line of recently constructed dog parks — Dover’s Tidbury Park in 2008, the Milford Dog Park in 2014, and most recently Lewes Unleashed Dog Park last August. According to BringFido.com, a resource that aggregates dog amenities, Delaware has about 35 “off leash” dog parks.

Members of the public have an opportunity to comment on the proposed dog park at the next Levy Court business meeting on June 13 at 7 p.m. in the Levy Court chambers, Room 203 of the Kent County Administrative Complex, 555 Bay Road in Dover.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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