Wednesday, October 8, 2003

Kenton dog park idea sits, stays



By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INDEPENDENCE - Supporters of a Kenton County "paw park" will have to wait until at least late November to see if their proposal is recommended.

"We're trying to look at the entire issue of all of our parks, all of our facilities, and how (a dog park) fits in," Kenton County Judge-executive Dick Murgatroyd told dog park supporters at Tuesday's fiscal court meeting. Rather than address the issue "piecemeal," he and his fellow fiscal court members said, they want to first see where a dog park ranks in the county's new parks and recreation master plan.

HOW TO HELP
To volunteer or make a pledge to the proposed Kenton County dog park, call Tom Biedenharn at (859) 341-4455.

What it would include: Kenton County's two-acre dog park would feature a 6-foot chain link fence that would be double-gated to keep dogs from escaping as visitors enter. There would be a separate area for small dogs, a "time out'' section for dogs that get overly aggressive, human and doggie drinking fountains, benches and a small walking track.

County officials said they also want to consider the cost to build and maintain such a dog park and resolve any liability issues before giving the go-ahead.

Five dog lovers told the fiscal court that fenced-in dog parks are a growing national trend that let dogs run free and socialize with animals and humans without jeopardizing their safety. Such parks would be popular with Kenton County's 45,000 to 50,000 pet owners, especially those in urban areas who have little or no yards, they said.

Scott Kimmich, Kenton County deputy judge-executive, said that he had not given dog park supporters' revised cost estimates for the park to county officials because he was awaiting the final report from the parks task force.

By late November, a 35-member parks task force of public officials and private citizens plans to consider a countywide parks and recreation master plan - a plan that has cost about $35,000 and been two years in the making. So far, the dog park is ranked seventh out of eight projects the task force wants to see happen, said Wayne Speigel, Kenton County director of recreation and program development.

At the suggestion of Commissioner Dan Humpert, Tom Biedenharn, the force behind the dog park, agreed to look at a possible state-owned site on old Ky. 17 to see if the dog park could be built there. The site is near Pioneer Park, where supporters have proposed fencing in two acres for a dog park.

On Tuesday night, Biedenharn signed up 12 more volunteers, and he plans to start soliciting pledges to cover the park's construction and maintenance.

On Monday, Fort Thomas City Council followed the lead of other Greater Cincinnati communities when it approved an $18,000-$20,000 dog park at the rear of Highland Hills Park. West Chester Township opened its "Wiggly Field'' dog park in the Voice of America Park on Oct. 1, and Cincinnati's Mount Airy Forest also features a popular dog park.

Boone County employees have identified a possible dog park site in England Idlewild Park across the road from the Boone County Animal Shelter.

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com




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