dog playground

Ocean City resident Max, a now two-year old shepherd mix, pictured during a playdate last July at the Dog Playground on 94th Street, can expect to find enlarged space for canines later this summer after the Public Works Director Hal Adkins offered this week to complete an initial round of improvements with in-house materials and labor.    

(July 12, 2019) After the Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department was shot down the last three years for state grants to revamp the dog playground in Little Salisbury Park on 94th Street, the Public Works Department has offered to complete an initial round of improvements that will greatly increase the space for free-range canine activities.

The latest plans for the 94th Street site were introduced during the Recreation and Parks Committee meeting on Tuesday.

Director of Recreation and Parks Susan Petito said despite several previous rejections for Community Parks and Playground grants through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, recent conversations with agency officials indicate funding for the long delayed project might finally surface.

“There was certainly positive feedback on moving forward with submitting the dog playground again this year for grant purposes,” she said. “However, our wonderful public works has a little bit of an opportunity where they can do much of the work in-house [because] a lot of the materials are here on hand.”

After coordinating with Public Works Director Hal Adkins, Petito said improvements at the dog playground could get underway by next month.

Adkins said the primary upgrade involves relocating a pond area to free more dog-friendly space.

“It was originally a stormwater retention/detention pond for the surrounding areas,” he said.

Adkins said public works would excavate the current pond section, which will be relocated to the other side of the parcel, and fill the depression with dirt to level the elevation.

Adkins said after discussing the challenges to rehab the 94th Street dog playground with Petito, he realized the materials needed to complete initial updates were already available in a public works construction staging area behind the now demolished Ocean Plaza Mall.

“I have massive piles of dirt back there,” he said. “I either need to remove that dirt and move it to the airport to a fill site I have or … take all that fill and finish this project for you.”

While earlier cost estimates to upgrade the dog playground were over $100,000, Adkins said dividing the project into phases would drop that figure significantly.

“It’s probably going to turn out to be $20,000-$30,000 for the parts I can’t do,” he said. “I have no intention of charging the recreation department internally.”

Adkins said the materials and equipment are readily available.

“I’m just looking for permission to help the recreation department,” he said. “I can knock out my part in two weeks or less in August.”

Pending grant funding approval, Petito said other amenities, such as an artificial turf section and additional irrigation, would be added later.

Petito said the in-kind assistance from public works would enable the long-delayed project to get started.

“This would at least give us the phase one we wanted to do, which is improve the amount of usable space at the dog park,” she said.

Councilman John Gehrig, who serves as Recreation and Parks committee chairman, asked how much additional space the proposal would provide.

Petito estimated the project would boost the space available for dogs by 58 percent.

“Right now we have 9,525 square feet of usable space. With this projection, we believe we can get to 15,001 square feet,” she said.

While the minimum recommended space for a dog park is three-quarters of an acre, or roughly 36,000 square feet, Petito said the absolute minimum is half an acre, or 21,780 square feet.

“It’s still a little bit too small to be an official dog park [but] it’s getting us closer,” she said.

Applications for the latest round of Community Parks and Playground grants are due to Natural Resources by next month, Petito said.

“We need your blessing to move forward,” she said. “We would like to submit another dog playground grant, with encouragement from DNR, to finish the niceties of this park.”

The Recreation Committee voted in favor of submitting a Fiscal 2021 grant application by the August 21 deadline, with awards to be announced in May 2020.

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