By Alex Bridges -- firstname.lastname@example.org
Strasburg could join the growing number of communities with dog parks.
The Town Council public safety and recreation committee heard a presentation on the park at its meeting Monday. While several members appeared to back the idea as a concept, they advised supporters that council may need more information on the proposal to push it forward. The recently formed nonprofit Strasburg Dog Owners Group has its eyes on open space in the town's park. The space could contain two separate, enclosed areas - a 9,100-square-foot section for small dogs and a 23,500-square-foot section for larger canines.
"Dogs need to be socialized with each other and with other people, and dogs really benefit from getting out and being able to run at large, not always being stuck on the end of a 6-foot leash," said Strasburg veterinarian N. Lee Newman. "Because of these needs and because we're no longer a farm-type community where dogs can run at large through town, a dog park that's dedicated to a space where it is safe for dogs to play off-leash and for them to interact with other dogs, for other owners to get together, a dog park is the way to go."
The association already has begun its fundraising efforts and plan to hold a Doggie Dive-in at the Strasburg Town Pool from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 8.
But the group likely could see a better response to its fundraising if members could tell potential supporters where they intend to build the park, according to Newman and others.
Newman gave the presentation to the committee for the organization whose members expressed a desire to raise the money needed to build the park. However, as Newman explained, the group would likely need the town to provide maintenance and upkeep on the facility. Strasburg officials told the council members the town already mows the space eyed for the park.
Councilman Richard Redmon, who uses a service dog because he is blind, said he supports the idea of the dog park. Councilman Scott Terndrup, in the audience at the meeting along with several members of the dog group, echoed Redmon's support.
Councilman Robert Baker told Newman that the group should further solidify its proposal before bringing it to the full council. Questions were raised about which entity -- the town or the dog owners group -- would maintain the park; who makes sure owners pick up the waste of their animals and what happens if a person is hurt on the property. Newman said dog owners keep an eye on each other and most know the common courtesy of picking up after their pets. Town Zoning Administrator Laura O'Dell explained that Strasburg's insurance covers liability on park properties.
Newman and the group have watched the efforts of a similar organization in Warren County and Front Royal to establish a dog park. The Strasburg group even sought the help of Kelly Walker, the person who spearheaded the years-long endeavor in Warren County. That dog park officially opened to the public Tuesday. Winchester opened its facility in Jim Barnett Park several years ago.