TAKOMA PARK – A new dog park is slated to open in Takoma Park by the end of December and workers broke the ground last Thursday, according to the deputy city manager.
City Coordinator of Special Projects Nima Upadhyay said the project will cost about $200,000.
A Program Open Space grant from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources will cover about 75 percent of the cost and the city will cover the remaining 25 percent.
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Upadhyay initially estimated the project would cost $70,000 and then last year Director of Public Works Daryl Braithwaite said the project was expected to cost $192,000.
City Manager Suzanne Ludlow and Deputy City Manager Jason Damweber said they could not recall when residents started advocating for the construction of a dog park.
However, Joe Edgell, local resident and founder of the community group Takoma Dogs, said residents have been requesting the park during the 11 years he’s lived there, and at least twice prior to his moving to Takoma Park in 2005.
“There were residents who made that request at various times; their efforts failed for various reasons,” Edgell said. “I picked up the torch.”
Edgell said he believes the two petitions for which he and others gathered more than 1,000 signatures more than two years ago convinced city government that enough residents wanted a dog park and would use it.
The dog park is to be a fenced area where people can walk their dogs and play with their dogs without keeping them on a leash, Edgell said.
Takoma Park resident Rebecca Bjork said she’s excited to have a new place to walk her 2-year-old dog Prince.
Bjork said she knew about the park and contractors beginning the work.
Piney Branch Neighborhood Park, a few minutes’ walk from the future dog park site, is the only place she walks Prince.
Bjork pointed out a dog park would allow owners to walk their dogs without leashes throughout the day.
“Some people run dogs off leashes (at the park) early in the morning,” she said.
Although the City Council approved the project and then selected a site in 2014, Upadhyay said someone had to design it and have Montgomery Park and Planning approve the design.
Then the city had to obtain the necessary permits and easements to complete the project, including an easement from the Maryland National Capital Park and Planning Commission.
“(MNCPPC) made us review stormwater management plans for the project three times (before approving it),” Upadhyay said.
Ludlow agreed and said obtaining approval and permits from MNCPPC were two of the key holdups in the project.
Damweber said the city government and staff don’t mind that Takoma Dogs has been vocal about the need for the park and assuring the project should continue to progress.
“I think this is a community of activists,” Damweber said. “People aren’t shy to share their interests.”
“I think they’re (Takoma Dogs) a partner of City Government,” Damweber said.
The City had said they planned to open the dog park in 2015.
Upadhyay said the city had not received all the necessary permits and easements then, but now has the easements and most of the permits it needs to begin construction.