Additional funding for CA dog park approved

The Columbia Association Board of Directors approved on Aug. 8 an additional $55,000 to build Columbia's first dog park in Harper's Choice.

The additional funds bring the total cost of the project to $135,000. The park will be located near the intersection of Rivendell Lane and Cedar Lane and could, weather permitting, open by late fall, according to Jane Dembner, Columbia Association Director of Community Building and Sustainability.

Approval of the funding was delayed two weeks after the board requested CA's Director of Capital Improvements Denis Ellis deliver cost estimates on pervious pavement for the park's 19-space parking lot.

According to Ellis, repaving the 7,000-square foot lot with pervious concrete for would cost between $151,000 and $158,000, while using traditional asphalt would cost $26,000.

Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to follow the staff plan that called for an asphalt parking lot, despite protestations from a couple of board members.

While an increased expense, proponents of making the switch to the more environmentally friendly concrete, which is better for storm water runoff, argue it aligns well with CA's goal toward becoming more sustainable.

"Even if it costs more, we should at least try it here because its not a large area," said Hekimian. "Everything says on paper (environmental sustainability) is the direction we want to go in, and yet when we have an example where we can do it a relatively modest cost, we're saying no."

In addition to the cost factor, switching to porous concrete would have required the project to be resubmitted to Howard County's Department of Planning Zoning, delaying the park opening until spring, according to Ellis.

Board member and Hickory Ridge representative Gregg Schwind said he wished the porous concrete options were brought to the board at the beginning of the process.

"We are supposed to be committed to environmental sustainability. ... We are supposed to be a leader, the county and others are using porous pavement and we can't. My concern is we aren't even a follower when it comes to environmental sustainability."

The board did mandate that the two concrete pads at the dog park, which will be used as areas for owners to clean their dogs before leaving the park, be made of porous concrete. Ellis said since a drainage system for those areas already was planned, the porous concrete, which would make additional drainage redundant, would be no additional cost.

Ellis recommended, as an alternative, the board consider building a bio-retention facility, or rain garden, at the lower end of the lot in a separate project.

A bio-retention facility is a water quality feature that removes pollutants from stormwater runoff. According to Ellis, the facility, which would cost $75,000, would be part of a separate capital project and is "a very appropriate way to address stormwater impacts at the dog park."

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