Ellsworth Urban Park slated for Montgomery County’s first urban dog park -- Gazette.Net



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Proposed project could cost as much as $400,000

by Kara Rose

Staff Writer

Preliminary estimates for Montgomery County’s first urban dog park range from $40,000 to $400,000, according to a parks department PowerPoint document.

The pilot dog park is being proposed for Ellsworth Urban Park, nestled between Ellsworth Drive and Colesville Road in Silver Spring’s central business district. The cost estimates exclude the purchase of land, according to the PowerPoint document on the Parks Department’s website.

Brooke Farquhar, master planner supervisor for the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, said her staff is leaning toward the medium option, at a cost of $250,000.

The medium option includes wire mesh fencing, a water fountain, occasional shade structures, stone or gravel surfaces, standard benches on concrete pads, trees with moderate level of protection and specialized trash cans, according to the document.

The document shows the $40,000 estimated plan with a chain-link fence, no shelter and grass or bare-earth surfaces.

The $400,000 estimate includes decorative fencing, shelters, K-9 turf, pavers, a mosiac of hard surface, and a landscaped natural area. It also lists possible canine play structures, public canine-themed art, and lighting.

The park is currently home to a gazebo, small trails, tennis courts and playgrounds. Farquhar said Ellsworth was “well-suited” for an urban dog park at about 20,000 square feet.

Site selection criteria for the pilot urban dog park consists of finding existing, underused park land in an area of high density and walkability, Farquhar said. Requirements for the program state that the space should be at least 10,000 square feet with adequate parking and safety that is an appropriate distance from residents, she said.

The other 10 sites considered for the pilot urban dog park were the Montgomery Regional Office, Fairview Neighborhood Park, Jessup Blair Park, Fenton Street Urban Park, Nolte Local Park, Bullis Local Park, Dale Avenue Neighborhood Park, Sligo Creek Golf Course, Rock Creek Stream Valley Park and Sligo Creek Stream Valley Park.

David Fogel, a South Silver Spring resident in Eastern Village, said he was disappointed that the proposed urban dog park was so far away from his neighbors.

“The last thing the county wants is people getting into cars in an already congested part of the county to drive their pets to a dog park,” Fogel said.

Fogel, who has a background in community development and urban planning, said finding a space in Silver Spring’s central business district that meets the criteria set by the Parks Department is “next to impossible.”

“At the end of the day, something is better than nothing and we need something,” Fogel said. “We have some adequate spaces that could serve this purpose and I think it would really drastically benefit these residents’ quality of life.”

Fogel suggested using Acorn Park as an urban dog park area, however Farquhar said the area is too small. Fogel said her team developed the size requirement after speaking with groups who maintained dog parks in other urban areas, such as Baltimore, New York City and Washington, D.C.

“We want to provide a place where people will hang around for a little while, be outdoors with their dogs, meet, socialize — I don’t think that happens so much at a small dog park,” Farquhar said.

So far, Farquhar said staff has received a lot of positive comments on the project. She said she has met with a couple of community groups to hear their concerns and answer questions about the hours of operation of the park, trash overflow and general maintenance.

Farquhar said she is interested in talking with more groups about their concerns and suggestions as park of the public process. She is meeting next week with members of South Silver Spring, who have long voiced concerns about a lack of space for residents to walk and play with their dogs, most notably in November, when Parks Department officials addressed citizens at the Silver Spring Civic Building about potential green space projects.

The 2012 Park and Recreation Open Space Plan shows a countywide need of 12 dog parks based on the projected 2022 population. Farquhar said there are no dog parks inside the Beltway and that dog parks are needed in Silver Spring, Takoma Park, North Bethesda and the Bethesda-Chevy Chase areas.

Silver Spring needs about 2.2 dog parks, she said.

So far, there are dog parks at five spots in the county: Black Hill Regional Park in Gaithersburg, Ridge Road Recreational Park in Germantown, and Olney Manor Recreational Park, Wheaton Regional Park and Cabin John Regional Park in Bethesda.

The Gazette previously reported that Olney Manor Dog Park cost the State Highway Administration $135,000, and that construction for the Cabin John Dog Park, funded through the Capital Improvements Program, cost the county $158,000.

Melissa Chotiner, a spokeswoman for the Parks Department, told The Gazette in December that the county’s five dog parks cost about $48,000 a year to maintain.

A public meeting soon will be slated for late August or early September to discuss the urban dog park, Farquhar said.

krose@gazette.net