Columbia dog park could open in fall

Columbia could have its first dog park as early as September if the Columbia Association Board of Directors approves $55,000 additional funds for the project, CA's Director of Community Building and Sustainability Jane Dembner said.

Dembner and Dennis Ellis, CA's Director of Capital Improvements, said the additional funds, which would bring the total cost to $135,000, are needed to complete the project.


"Recent cost estimates and bids indicate the $80,000 originally budgeted for the dog park construction will not be sufficient to complete the project," Ellis wrote in a memo to the CA Board. "The budget figure was approved early on in the process before a site was actually selected and without the benefit of detailed cost estimates."

Since the original funds were approved, CA has chosen a 3-acre site in Harper's Choice in between Rivendell Lane and CA's SportsPark. After receiving approval from the Harper's Choice Village Board, CA submitted plans to Howard County's Department of Planning Zoning, which approved them earlier this month, Ellis said.


The approved plans have resulted in more finite cost figures, which Dembner said exceeded the original rough estimate.

"We'd like to complete the dog park now. We are ready to go, but we need some extra funds because there was never an understanding of how much the full project would cost," she said.

Plans for the park call for two fenced-in areas — a two-acre space for large dogs and a seven-tenths-acre space for small dogs. It also will have two water stations, which will be used by owners to wash their dogs before leaving the park. Drivers can access the park through a side road off of Rivendell Lane. The side road, which will be repaved, will also have 19 parking spaces.

The park, which will be open from dawn to dusk, also will have a pay box staffed by a full-time employee, according to Sean Harbaugh, assistant director of CA's Open Space Management.

A fee structure for park-goers has not been finalized, but Harbaugh said it will be similar to the system used by the county at Worthington Dog Park in Ellicott City.

"There will be an annual registration fee to use the dog park, or people can choose to pay a nominal daily fee instead," Harbaugh said. "CA is working on what those rates will be."

Concrete plans

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While the board could have approved the fund transfer at its July 25 meeting, it pushed off the decision until August after requesting that Ellis deliver cost estimates for permeable concrete, which is better for stormwater run off and the environment.


In addition to repaving the side road, the parking spaces and access road, the plan also calls for concrete walkways to and around the park.

"I'm an advocate of the permeable pavements because I've seen them successfully done by the County as well as other agencies," said Board member Alex Hekimian, who suggested the change.

"At some point we have to start thinking about doing something similar at CA. This location might be a good place to start because it doesn't require a whole lot of expense."

Ellis estimates that shifting to permeable concrete could double the cost from $20,000 to $40,000. There also are concerns the permeable concrete could cost more to maintain.

Plans for a second Columbia dog park, built by the county and located at Blandair Park in Oakland Mills, are still being drawn up, according to Raul Delerme, bureau chief of capital projects for the county's Department of Parks and Recreation.

Delerme said there are no cost estimates for the park, and that the county hopes to begin construction in summer or fall of 2014.