After working since 2016 to bring a dog park to the South Carroll area, community organizers and Carroll County officials on Saturday will hold a ceremony marking its beginning.
The Carroll County Department of Recreation and Parks and the Friends of South Carroll Dog Park will jointly host a groundbreaking and fundraiser event at the future site of the park, behind the South Carroll Senior & Community Center at 5928 Mineral Hill Road.
Efforts to create the dog park started in 2016 after Kathy Martin, lead volunteer of the Friends of South Carroll Dog Park group, got her black Labrador Retriever and looked for dog parks for her to play in, she said.
“What I discovered was that in our area here in South Carroll, we really have to drive 25 minutes in every direction to access the closest dog park, which is an area where dogs can run off leash. Under the law in our area, dogs can’t run off leash, in Freedom Park, for example," Martin said. “So, I met with Jeff Degitz, who is the director of the Recreation and Parks Department here in Carroll County, in the fall of ’16. We had several informational sessions and, basically, that led to the development of the small committee (Friends of South Carroll Dog Park).”
According to Martin, the committee had to go through the process of holding public meetings to inform the public, let them ask questions and get answers. After that, they began fundraising in spring 2018 and created their Facebook page, which now has more than 800 members.
The committee raised over $20,000 from its 2018 fundraising, then pushed further to gain support from the county.
“Another key initiative that was successful in July, we were able to speak before the five county commissioners, and they unanimously agreed to support the funding of dog parks in the county,” Martin said. “That then allowed us to apply for a self-help grant through the Freedom Area Rec Council. With the support of the Freedom Area Rec Council and their representative Ken Whalen, we did apply for the maximum amount of funding available through that self-help grant.”
After the committee won that grant, they were required it to raise $6,250 in order to then receive $18,750 from the Rec Council, totaling $25,000.
The funding helped the committee put bids out for a 20-by-20-foot concrete pad at the entrance of the soon-to-be dog park and, according to Martin, it will be designed as a modern dog park. It will sit on two acres of land and, of course, have pet waste eliminator stations, with waste bags donated by a local real estate agent, according to Martin.
The committee’s fundraising efforts last year included its first Puppy PAWrade, featuring musical entertainment and snacks. Now the PAWrade is an annual event for the committee, and this year’s edition will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, after the groundbreaking at 12:30 p.m.
According to a committee news release, activities will begin at 8 a.m. with the “No Fleas Please!” flea market, operating until noon. Food trucks will be present from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday Night Big Band will perform from 1-2 p.m., followed by the Puppy Costume PAWrade.
Funds from this year’s PAWrade will contribute to plans to ensure the dog park reaches Americans with Disabilities Act compliance.
Once open in late spring 2020, the dog park will require a membership fee of $30 for the year per family, which includes two dogs. Each member must be able to provide immunization records for each dog. The membership entails a number tag that the dog(s) will wear while they are in the park, which will allow for easy identification, and a keypad code to access the park, which will change annually, according to Martin.
The membership fees will fund maintenance of the dog park.