By Alex Bridges
Strasburg may let canine lovers use the town's tennis courts as a dog park.
Town Council's Public Safety and Recreation Committee met Monday to discuss a proposal to turn the aging courts at the Strasburg park facility into a temporary dog park.
The Strasburg Dog Owners Group continues to raise money toward the effort. The group began the initiative last year with supporters first considering property at the town park near the swimming pool and tennis courts.
Town Manager Judson Rex said later on Monday that at its last meeting the committee discussed the condition of the tennis courts and needed improvements. Rex pointed out the nets and pavement need repairs or replacement.
"As we dove into that at the staff level we realized there's a lot it would take to get those courts up and running as tennis courts," Rex said. "Basically, it's unusable as it is right now."
Staff then debated whether the town should use the space for tennis courts or some other purpose. Staff decided that temporary use of the tennis courts as a dog park could draw more attention to the canine-owners' group and its efforts to build a permanent site, Rex said. The group is raising money to build a facility in the town park at the east end of Queen Street
Staff presented the idea to the dog owners group.
"They really liked the idea," Rex said. "They thought it would be a great way to sort of make the community aware of what a dog park is and act almost as a trial run for a larger, permanent facility."
The committee heard the proposal Monday and discussed the idea. The tennis courts do not offer as much space as the dog owners group has sought. But the courts would give dogs space to run and play, Rex noted.
"It wouldn't take a lot to convert the space," Rex said.
The town would need to make some adjustments to the gates and put in other security measures, but the asphalt would remain unchanged, Rex explained. The town would need to create a sitting area, add trashcans and other amenities. There are no drinking fountains or other water sources at the tennis courts, so patrons would need to bring water from outside the park.
Rex said that the question arose over whether the asphalt surface would suffice for a dog park. Lee Newman, a veterinarian and organizer with the Strasburg Dog Owners Group, said that while grass is preferred asphalt also would work, Rex recalled.
Reaction and use of the temporary park would give the town and dog owners an idea of how a permanent site would fare.
Tennis players have access to other courts such as those at Strasburg High School and at the county park in Maurertown.
"We are cognizant that it would take away tennis courts from the community and sort of replace it with a different amenity," Rex said.
The committee also asked whether the town would restore the courts to their intended use later. Rex said that's a possibility, though he acknowledged that the courts would need costly improvements.
The committee recommended that staff bring the proposal to Town Council's Oct. 21 work session for more discussion. Rex said staff should have an idea of the cost to turn the courts into a dog park. The committee also asked staff to seek public input on the proposal and Rex said the town may conduct a survey to gather comments from residents.
"I can see both sides and understand both sides because we want to do what's best for the community as a whole," Rex said.
Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or firstname.lastname@example.org