TREASURE ISLAND – Treasure Island is pondering going to the dogs, if only with the proposed building of a pooch playground at Roselli Park on the Isle of Capri, a finger-shaped peninsula on Boca Ciega Bay.
Many Isle of Capri residents and members of the civic association attended a commission meeting Tuesday, Sept. 18, to tell officials they are enthusiastic about raising funds for a proposed dog park at the city-owned recreation facility on Capri Circle South and Second Street East.
“Every other week we’re asked about a dog park,” Justin Tramble, assistant park director said. “The city is committed to providing its residents and visitors with amenities that meet the needs and desires of the community. With that said, public advocacy for a dog park has recently ascended to the forefront of desired park amenities in Treasure Island.”
The recreation department has had numerous requests regarding the addition of a dog park in Treasure Island. Specifically, residents in the Isle of Capri neighborhood have expressed their support. The Isle of Capri Civic Association, with the support of Commissioner Deborah Toth, has worked to build consensus within the neighborhood for a dog park, Tramble said.
“We believe Roselli Park has potential to be an excellent venue for a signature dog park,” since it already has shade trees, Tramble told commissioners.
Recreation staff studied numerous county dog parks and visited amenities offered in St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park, and Largo, he explained.
“We think we can put an adequate dog park at Roselli Park,” he added.
After studying location options, Tramble said staff feels the best place suitable for a dog park at Roselli Park is the area behind the left field fence. This area provides roughly 13,000 to 15,000 square feet of relatively flat grassy area. Though smaller than the average dog park, the recreation department believes that it compares with the size of other neighboring facilities and will be an adequate venue to build a signature dog park in Treasure Island.
“Furthermore, the location could be easily connected to the walkway in Roselli Park, which improves connectivity throughout the Isle of Capri. This location also has existing shade, which will limit costs,” Tramble said.
Dog park users that arrive via car would need to use the parking lot near the concession stand facility and walk to the dog park entrance, roughly a 350-foot walk. It is worth noting that it is illegal to park along Capri Circle South. The restroom facility is also located near the concession stand, he said.
Tramble estimated the cost of building a dog park would range from $30,000 to $35,000, with $5,280 set aside to re-sod it annually. He said fundraising should pay for the cost of the park through sale of remembrance pavers and inscribed park benches like those sold on Sunset Beach.
Among amenities, the park would feature fenced running areas for both small and large dogs and a pooch and person water fountain, along with lighting. Dog park advocates suggest it be named in honor of late County Commissioner John Morroni, a city resident who supported many local causes.
“There are lots of fundraising opportunities and staff has identified several grant opportunities,” the assistant recreation director explained.
Commissioners voiced unanimous support of the city locating a dog park at Roselli Park.
Commissioner Tyler Payne said he “thinks it’s a great idea. I had it on my platform that I’d love to see a dog park in Treasure Island. (Roselli Park) has shade and ample space. It allows a lot more room than Triangle Park.”
Isle of Capri resident Charles Rossi told commissioners dog walkers are very excited about having a dog park at Roselli. Many people have smaller dogs and like the ability of their dog to interact with others.
“The Isle of Capri Civic Association is also very supportive of initiative and very excited about it,” he added.
Missy Hahn, Treasure Island-Madeira Beach Chamber of Commerce president, said the chamber supports the idea of the city having a dog park and would be delighted to help the fundraising effort.
Mike Brady, an Isle of Capri resident, said people have been working on getting a dog park for more than a year. He told commissioners everyone is excited that the commission is looking into establishing a dog park at Roselli.
Dominique Reiter, an Isle of Capri resident who is spearheading the effort, told commissioners that fundraising has already begun with Caddy’s On the Beach being their first corporate sponsor. She added that inscribed pavers, pet fairs, fundraisers and offering park benches with remembrance plaques should defray the cost.
Newly appointed Commissioner Saleene Partridge said a dog park will bring the community together. She noted residents living in condos, who may be reluctant to have a pet, might be encouraged to get a dog if they knew they had a dog park available for their exercise.
Mayor Larry Lunn also supported locating the dog park at Roselli, noting pooches are part of the family and should not be disregarded.
While supporting the concept, Commissioner Heidi Horvak said she wants to make sure that when the project comes to the commission for a vote, all Isle of Capri residents are well informed, in case someone wants to object. At the meeting, one Isle of Capri resident said she just doesn’t want a dog park in her neighborhood, objecting to increased visitors to the park and their dogs.
With commissioners unanimously supporting the project at the work session, City Manager Garry Brumback said staff will work on a proposal that will have to be approved at a future regular meeting