At its Thursday meeting, the Carroll County Board of Commissioners voted to make it possible for county capital funds to go toward community efforts to bring a dog park to southern Carroll, reversing the decision made by a prior board.
The unanimous vote from the five commissioners will make it possible for the Friends of the South Carroll Dog Park, a community group that has been raising funds to create a dog park behind the South Carroll Senior and Community Center, to apply for self-help funds, a pool of money for capital projects managed by the Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks.
“I am so very pleased with the unanimous vote by the five County Commissioners to approve access to county funding for Dog Parks, via the Self Help Fund process,” Kathy Martin, president of the Friends of the South Carroll Dog Park, wrote in an email. “This approval is a key step in funding this large-scale project.”
Martin was present Thursday morning to provide public testimony about the history and scale of that dog park project. She was one of a group of interested people who began meeting to discuss the construction of a dog park in March of 2017 that has since seen significant growth and fundraising success.
In an effort to provide their four-legged companions with a place to play, the Friends of South Carroll Dog Park will meet Tuesday, January 9 at the South Carroll Senior and Community Center in Eldersburg.
The group had approached Carroll County Recreation and Parks not long after coming together and the county had already agreed to provide land for the dog park — 2.5 acres at the back of the South Carroll Senior and Community Center — provided that the community could raise the funds for some necessary construction costs.
“Phase I is approximately $42,000; that is to build an [Americans with Disabilities Act] compliant path from the existing parking lot back to the dog park area and enclosing 2.5 acres with a five-foot chain link fence,” Martin told the commissioners. “Phase II would include $10,000 to cordon off a small dog area out of the existing 2.5 acres.”
The South Carroll Dog Park would be the second dog park in Carroll County. The first, as Director of Carroll County Recreation and Parks Jeff Degitz told the commissioners Thursday, was the Bennett Cerf Dog Park in Westminster.
“Back in April 2012 the then-Board of County Commissioners approved the ability of a group to raise funds for a dog park at Bennett Cerf Park,” Degtiz said. “The position that the commissioners took was that if the community would raise enough funds for the capital development of the park, and if the park could operate in a way that was self-sustaining, they would support that projection.”
The community did raise funds for the park, and it opened a year later in 2013, Degitz said, and has not only been self-funding ever since, it has even added revenue to the county general fund.
“Did they ask for additional funds at that time?” Commissioner Dennis Frazier, R-District 3, asked Degitz of the community effort to get the Bennett Cerf Dog Park off the ground.
“They did ask at that time and the decision was made for the county contribution to be use of the property, but not county funding,” Degitz said in response. “That decision has remained in place until it is changed.”
What Martin and Degitz had come before the commissioners to ask, is if they would change that decisions and allow the Friends of the South Carroll Dog Park to apply for self-help funds, monies available through Recreation and Parks for projects totaling no more than $25,000.
“It’s a three-to-one match. For a $25,000 project, if the community comes up with about $6,200, $18,000 would be founded through county self-help dollars,” Degitz said. “Those projects are reviewed and prioritized by our recreation and parks advisory board, and then we bring them to you all to approve the transfers into the individual projects.”
While this could make a huge difference for Friends of the South Carroll Dog Park, the commissioners’ Thursday vote does not mean they will receive this funding, merely that they can apply for, and, according to Degitz, “that doesn’t create additional county funds. It’s another request asking for the existing pot of county funds.”
That being said, Degitz noted that Recreation and Parks would have funds available in September.
“We have $96,000, it’s a pretty good-sized pot of money,” he said. “Fall would be a really good time, you would have more money to work with.”
To allow the Friends of the South Carroll Dog Group the chance to be a competitive applicant for some of those self-help funds was not a hard sell for Commissioner Ed Rothstein, R-District 5, in whose district the dog park could be built.
“I always say never give up an opportunity to give credit to your parents, and my parents go to a dog park every week and it is a highlight of their week,” he said. “The value it brings to them and the community — I think the location, specifically down in South Carroll, makes perfect sense tied to that community center.”
The Friends of the South Carroll Dog Park, meanwhile, will keep raising funds and reaching out for more support from the community through their website, www.southcarrolldogpark.org, according to Martin.
“We have created a logo, a website, t-shirts, car magnets, shopping bags and now car decals,” she wrote in an email. “Our Second Annual Puppy PAWrade will be held this fall on October 12th. We are adding a ‘No Fleas, Please’ Flea Market that day from 8 a.m. to noon, and are planning entertainment and food. The event will be held at the South Carroll Senior Center.”
In other business, the commissioners voted unanimously to approve $200,000 for the installation of a manhole and grinder pump at the Schoolhouse Road sewer pumping station — the grinder pump being necessary, as staff explained to the commissioners, for pulverizing flushed baby wipes that otherwise clog and foul the sewer system.
The commissioners also unanimously approved $61,396.51 for the inspection of the county’s minor bridges (those under 20 feet); $3,121,434 for the Roberts Mill storm water retrofit project in Taneytown; and a budget transfer of $125,000 from the Department of Economic Development to the county’s fiscal year 2019 Infrastructure and Investments Budget for the Londontown Boulevard project. That latter project involves the design of a roundabout at Londontown Boulevard and Bevard Road, in Eldersburg.