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Strasburg dog park moving forward

By Alex Bridges

With Stasburg leaders' approval of a site, a dog owners group now needs to raise money for a park.

Town Council recently voted to allow the Strasburg Dog Owners Group to use space at the town park near the tennis courts. The group's president, N. Lee Newman, said Wednesday they hope to raise funds for the project that will benefit dog owners and the community.

"Dogs are social animals," Newman said. "They deserve and need to socialize with their own species as well as with another species -- human beings. This is the great, fantastic, wonderful cross-species bonding that just doesn't happen that commonly in the world."

The site provides several advantages, Newman said. It is close to parking, allowing users easy access, especially for those who are elderly or disabled.She pointed out that dog parks in Winchester and Front Royal are far from parking areas.

"So, people like myself, when you've got two dogs on leashes and you're trying to deal with a cane, you can't walk very far in the first place," Newman said.

Town Council still needs to approve a memorandum of agreement with the group that would outline responsibilities of both parties. Under the deal, the dog owners group would raise the money and build the park. Once constructed, the town would then maintain it as it does other public recreation areas, Newman explained.

Town Manager Judson Rex said Thursday that staff members are crafting the memorandum and he expects council to consider it within the next few months.

The group has a meeting with council's public safety and recreation committee on Thursday to discuss the memorandum. The dog owners group also plans to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Town Hall to discuss the park. That meeting is open to the public.

The group has almost $3,000 saved in the bank. In the past two years, it has held successful fundraisers such as a dog walk-a-thon and events at the town pool.

Newman said the group estimates a park would cost $11,000-$15,000 to build. Much of the cost covers the installation of a fence that would encompass the park, which will have sections for large and small dogs.

Newman said the park is close to water lines in case organizers want to connect to the system. There are no plans to connect the park to electricity or install lights because the entire park closes at dusk.

The group received approval in January from the federal government for its application to become a nonprofit, and it is retroactive to August 2012. With the nonprofit status, donors can use the gifts as tax write-offs.

Visit www.strasburgdogpark.org or on facebook at http://tiny.cc/u6a4dx for more information on how to donate or volunteer for the project.

Contact staff writer Alex Bridges at 540-465-5137 ext. 125, or abridges@nvdaily.com

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