Little Creek gets ready to unleash dog park

 

The Little Creek dog park was approved by Kent County Levy Court back in mid-June. It was awarded $35,000 in county funding. The project is on schedule for completion by the end of the month, the town says. (Delaware State News/Marc Clery)

DOVER — Little Creek Mayor Glenn Gauvry says the town will put the finishing touches on its new dog park by the end of the month. The $35,000 Kent County-funded project was given the green light back in mid-June.

“None of this would have been possible without the confidence and support of our Levy Court commissioners, who have partnered with the town of Little Creek in this important community building initiative,” said Mayor Gauvry.

The town-owned park is being built near the Little Creek Post Office at the intersection of Main Street and Port Mahon Road. In the lead up to the work, the park was surveyed and trees were removed to provide access by emergency vehicles. The park has been fenced in, existing fencing has been restored and a concrete entrance pad was poured. Corner benches and trash receptacles have also been installed. Mayor Gauvry said that next week two wells will be installed with hand-operated pumps — the labor and supplies for that feature are being donated by the Little Creek Fire Company.

“A considerable amount of volunteer labor has been provided by both the community at large as well as the Little Creek Fire Company, which has allowed us to divert funds from one area covered by volunteer work, to another area that may have had cost overruns,” said Mayor Gauvry. “To date, we are on target for completion by the end of September and on budget.”

The town plans to take responsibility for maintaining the park once it’s complete. A two-person park commission was established to help manage the park and guide its programming.

“We’re going to be looking into county-wide and community events like dog training and immunization workshops — there are a lot of things that can be done with that kind of platform,” he said. “The commission is looking at ways to get Pet Smart, Petco, Concord Pet Foods & Supplies and local vets involved in events too. To date, we haven’t received any commitments. We are also hoping to have their presence in some capacity at our grand opening that will probably be around mid-October.”

The town is also in the process of forming a “Friends of the Little Creek Dog Park” and hope to have their first meeting later this week.

“It’s important to have this group established before we open the dog park, so that we have user guidance and oversight,” said Mayor Gauvry.

Anyone interested in joining the group can email the mayor at kabutogani@comcast.net.

New Dover dog park?

A letter and a petition signed by “over 50” residents, addressed to Dover Mayor Robin Christiansen spurred discussion about a new dog park and “passive playground” in the Acorn Farms development recently.

The prospect was discussed at last Tuesday’s city council meeting. Mahala Duffy, the Dover resident who penned the letter, said the park would help bring the community together and increase home values. The proposal has the support of the development’s homeowners association as well, she added.

“We are looking to have something that will be great for our surrounding neighbors to not have to travel as far and to feel at home with their children and dogs,” said Ms. Duffy

Ms. Duffy said that the petitioners are seeking financial assistance from the city with setting up the park, but because they are only in the very early planning stages, cost estimates and project scope have not yet been explored. The idea for the park came up during a “Community Unity Day” celebration in the Acorn Farms subdivision.

City Councilman Brian Lewis thinks the proposal shows “great initiative,” but would like the city to do its due diligence before moving forward with discussion.

“Dog parks have been increasing in popularity in today’s world,” he said. “I know Middletown completed a dog park not too long ago and New Castle County has many in their communities. I would first like to see director of planning and community development David Hugg ban together with the residents of the community proposing the dog park to evaluate the pros and cons, extent of city involvement and who would be responsible for keeping the area clean and sanitary.”

According to Ms. Duffy, the proposed site of the park is on 1 Acacia Place in Dover. According to Mr. Hugg, some legwork will be necessary to determine whether or not the park is feasible on the parcel in question.

“The council hasn’t taken any action yet,” said Mr. Hugg. “At the meeting, there were questions about what piece of land is city-owned in the development and what restrictions or covenants may be attached to it.”

The land parcel being considered is near a “drainage way,” and thus may be currently earmarked for drainage or as some sort of buffer, Mr. Hugg said.

“The council has instructed staff to gather more information at this point,” he added. “It’s an older development so we’ll need to examine it further and look into any restrictions.”

According to Mr. Hugg, several residents came to the city council meeting on Tuesday to speak in support of the proposal and one person spoke out against it.

Tidbury Park

Although it’s about 5 miles away from the Acorn Farms development, Dover already does have at least one dog park. Kent County paid $22,481 to set up Tidbury Park on 2233 S. State St. in Dover back in 2008. According to Kent County Parks and Recreation Assistant Director Michael Rigby, the purchase included a well, pumps, fencing, concrete, signage, trees, benches, grass seed, fertilizer and lumber. Since then, the park has seen continuous and sustained use, said Mr. Rigby.

“It absolutely gets used daily by patrons,” he said. “We try to meet the demands of the citizens of Kent County, and we had a fair number of inquiries about dog parks beforehand so we decided to build one because we had that location that was basically an open area not really being utilized.”

Owners are welcome to walk their dogs at all county parks, but Tidbury Park is the only county-run “off leash” park. The park is open to the public, but users must have their dogs licensed, be current on vaccinations and follow posted rules.

Milford built a dog park of their own in 2014 and Lewes Unleashed Dog Park, a private park, was completed last summer. According to BringFido.com, a resource that aggregates dog amenities, Delaware has about 35 “off leash” dog parks.

As far as online rating resources like SafeWise and Rankings are concerned, Delaware does pretty well in terms of “dog-friendliness.” Compiling data concerning number of animal shelters, “no-kill” shelters, animal cruelty laws, Humane Society rankings and other regulations and amenities, SafeWise ranked Delaware the 11th most dog-friendly state in 2017 and Rankings rated it the 16th in 2016.

Reach staff writer Ian Gronau at igronau@newszap.com

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