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South Carroll Dog Park group looks to build momentum

South Carroll Dog Park group looks to build momentum
As of Tuesday, $10,532 had been raised in an effort to build the South Carroll Dog Park. (Contributed/Kathy Martin)

Six members of the Friends of the South Carroll Dog Park met Tuesday evening to discuss the next steps in their efforts to bring a dog park to the South Carroll Senior and Community Center, which is also where their meeting was held.

It was a discussion largely centered around raising awareness raising funds, the two element that go hand in hand and are necessary to get the park made.

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“Our fundraising started in March of ’18. We had some restaurant nights, we did some Sykesville events, the farmers markets. Somehow the word got out and we had a benefactor who gave a $5,000 donation, which was very heart warming,” Kathy Martin, president of the group, said in an interview. “So now we are going to begin contacting the area businesses, we had letter head printed. So we’re just getting some momentum now.”

The group has a website, southcarrolldogpark.wordpress.com, and a Facebook page, which was how Scott and Courtney Lowe, of Marriottsville, found out about Tuesday’s meeting and decided to attend.

“We actually don’t even own a dog, but we plan on getting a dog,” Scott said in an interview. “We have kids; now we’re going for the dog. I’m mainly interested in getting involved in helping out.”

Martin does own a dog, and that was what got her thinking about a dog park back in late 2016.

“I have a Lab, so she’s a breed that enjoys socializing with other dogs and enjoys running really hard for long distances,” she said. “I just got the idea that I’ve lived here since 1990, I felt like this is a recreation amenity our community would benefit from and I was interested in exploring it.”

Martin reached out to Carroll County Recreation and Parks and held meetings to gauge interest in a dog park, and then began looking for a site. Freedom Park was a first choice, but it’s a Maryland State Park under the jurisdiction of the Department of Natural Resources, she said, and that application was denied.

Carroll County suggested a plot of land behind the senior center and the group jumped on it.

Heather Galli, of Sykesville, has been involved with the group for about a year, and does have a dog — a terrier mix named Sterling.

“It is something this community needs. We have so many fun events in downtown Sykesville and it was nice this past year that they incorporated a dog night as part of their first Friday events,” Galli said. “You see a lot of people in neighborhoods and downtown walking their dogs; they don’t really have a place to congregate and talk to other dog lovers, like they do in other areas.”

The park as envisioned, Galli said, will be two and a half acres of land behind the senior center, fenced in with a divider in the center to provide one section for larger dogs and another for smaller canines.

“There will be an ADA compliant sidewalk from the parking lot back to the back of the building,” she said.

And the fencing and sidewalk explain the need for fundraising Galli said. Working with the county Department of Parks and Recreation, the total cost for the park has been pegged at $54,425 across two phases.

Why more than $50,000 for a dog park?

“Cement is expensive, to make a sizable walkway, and fencing,” Galli said. “Fencing is not cheap — it will be about five foot fencing around two and a half acres and then with the partition in between, that’s a lot of fencing.”

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As of Tuesday, the group’s Gofundme campaign had raised $10,532.

“Once we hit our first benchmark, about $40,000 to set up the main structure, then the county takes up the rest of it,” Galli said. “They will maintain it. It will be under the department of parks and recreation.”

And so the importance of monthly meetings and social media and getting the word out, something Scott Lowe said he is happy to help out with, even though it was his first meeting.

“It seems like a very solid plan and an attainable goal and the goal is awesome: It’s a dog park,” he said. “I didn’t think I would be so excited when I came here and now I am.”

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