South Strabane Township resident Leigh Lyons asked the township supervisors Tuesday to put a dog park in Community Park.
Her German shepherd, Mia, isn’t the only dog in the greater Washington area that needs a place to run around free of a leash. Residents in Washington have also asked for an off-leash area to be put in at Washington Park.
“The closest one is Mingo Creek Park, and that’s 35 minutes away,” Lyons said.
She reached out to South Strabane Township manager Brandon Stanick last month about pitching the idea. She started an online campaign and has about 127 signatures, not all of whom are township residents.
“I wanted to show that there is a lot of interest,” she said. “I hope they’ll consider it.”
There are multiple areas, Lyons said, that would work for an off-leash space, if fencing were installed. She said the park already has multiple waste and bag stations to encourage dog walkers to clean up after their pooches.
“My proposition is that they could do it cost-effectively and would only need to spend money on a fence,” she said. “I think it would be a very low cost for a high reward.”
Another township resident, Andrew Meek, said he would also like to see a dog park set up in the area.
“I know our dog would be happy,” he said. “I really think that traveling to Mingo Creek is just too far.”
Meek said he usually takes his dog to Washington Park, where he walks him on a leash since there’s not a dog park there, either.
“But I think he’d rather run free,” Meek said.
Alena Helmar of Houston asked on a local community Facebook page if anyone knew of a nearby dog park for her to take her dachshund, Schnitzel. She said she doesn’t like Mingo’s dog park because it’s not completely fenced in and there are large holes under the fence that a smaller dog like hers could sneak under.
“I take him for walks on a leash, and my mom has a fenced-in yard, so I take him there sometimes,” Helmar said. “It’s better that they have the ability to run off-leash and get better exercise at their pace to get their energy out.”
Stanick said the township would consider Lyons’ suggestion and look into how feasible it would be for the park to have an off-leash area.
“We don’t want to just put up some fencing,” he said. “If we’re going to do it, we want to do it right.”
That’s exactly what city officials said about a 2-year-long process of getting a dog park area in Washington Park. City Mayor Scott Putnam said they’ve been planning the dog park for an area past the Pony field and the elementary school.
Range Resources even donated the fencing for it about a year ago, he said, but it hasn’t been a priority project.
“We’ve had some maintenance issues going on at the park, so that’s been on the back burner,” he said.
Lynn Galluze, the city’s computer systems coordinator, said the fence still needs to be put up around the area that’s just under an acre.
“We need to make sure the area is contained,” she said. “We don’t want to lose anybody’s puppies.”
The land needed to be flattened out, she said, so when the city did its pond project in the park, they used the dredged pond material to level it, Galluze said.
“Some of the material taken out of the pond was deposited where the dog park would be,” she said. “It is a work in progress.”
The city was considering whether there was enough parking in that area for a dog park. Galluze said she’d also like the city to consider getting water up there, but in a way that it could be shut off in the winter, so pipes don’t freeze.
“It’s not just a case of putting a fence up,” she said. “We want to make sure we do it the right way for a dog park. It’s still on the books. We just need to move it to the top and get it done.”