TREASURE ISLAND — City commissioners approved plan to allow the installation of a dog park at Roselli Park on Isle of Capri, by a narrow margin. However, the project still must clear several hurdles before coming to fruition.
Assistant Recreation Director Justin Tramble noted the dog park is funded solely by donations, and sale of memorial pavers and benches. Supporters have currently raised $12,200, or half of what is needed to build the park.
The group raising funds for the dog park stopped accepting donations until the Roselli site was approved by commissioners, he explained. Now that Roselli has been approved, it’s believed additional funds will become available.
However, after a vote was taken to approve the dog park, Glenn McKiel, spokesman for Citizens Against Roselli Dog Park, told the Beach Beacon his group now has no other recourse but to explore taking legal action to stop the project.
At the March 19 commission meeting, Tramble started discussion by asking commissioners for specifics on how they would like to see the facility developed.
For example, he asked should the fence facing adjacent homes be 5 or 15 feet from the sidewalk and whether vegetative buffers should be installed to eliminate noise. In addressing Commissioner Heidi Horvak’s concern about waste runoff after a storm, he told commissioners a swale would be constructed to contain runoff matter on site.
Horvak said she did not feel qualified to weigh in on how the dog park should be designed. She asked that the project be sent to the Planning and Zoning Board for their direction and recommendation.
City Manager Garry Brumback said staff was merely seeking to have a policy discussion that would determine whether staff should move forward with the dog park and how it should be designed.
Horvath said some of the options on park design should be discussed by Planning and Zoning and at a work session.
However, Commissioner Tyler Payne countered he thought commissioners could give recreation their suggestions and allow staff to come up with a design.
Mayor Larry Lunn reminded commissioners the main question is whether a dog park should be installed at Roselli Park.
Horvak insisted the project should go through the Planning and Zoning process. She said a dog park will likely be placed at Roselli but as part of the master plan project, where dog parks could also be located at other areas.
Community Improvement Director Paula Cohen and City Manager Garry Brumback countered Horvak’s statement that the issue could be reviewed by Planning and Zoning and returned for a commission vote in a short amount of time.
Cohen said if recommended to the Planning and Zoning Board for review the city would first contract with an engineering firm to explore design issues for a potential dog park and recommend solutions. The issue would not be brought back to the commission for several months.
Meanwhile, opponents and proponents of the dog park reiterated comments made at previous meetings.
Proponents said Treasure Island should have its own dog park, explaining dog walkers regularly visit Roselli and a fenced area will give pooches a controlled area to romp.
Isle of Capri Association members in favor of the dog park said they have been called names and harassed both on social media and at the park.
Dominique Ryder, who started the fund-raising effort to build the park, said she has been the target of insults and she is going to start recording them on her phone and file complaints.
Opponents who live adjacent to Roselli said the sound of dogs barking emanating from the dog park would destroy their quality of life, lower property values and increase traffic in the area.
One resident said he won’t mind a dog park if its use was restricted to only those living nearby, while a woman told commissioners any dogs barking at the park would disturb the Chihuahua at her nearby home.
Some opposed said they were never told about plans to locate a dog park at Roselli, while proponents from Isle of Capri Association said they held meetings to solicit input but few attended to voice suggestions or objections.
McKiel said they are outraged that despite the city staff recommending that this issue be made part of the city’s Recreation Master Plan, commissioners just voted to fast track it.
“We asked the commission to give a seat at the table so that those who abut the park have input and to make this proposal subject to a planning process,” he said.
McKiel questioned why an initial plan proposed by the Isle of Capri Civic Association was for a dog run of from 4,200 to 5,500 square feet, but recreation expanded to between 11,000 and 12,000 square feet. He said they might have been able to live with a smaller dog park at around 4,200 square feet.
Horvath said the issue has caused great divisiveness in the community and asked that it be sent to the Planning Board for further review, with the final plan coming back to the commission for approval.
Commissioners voted 3-1 to direct staff to locate the dog park at Roselli Park.
As initially proposed, dimensions at Roselli Park dog park would be roughly 13,000 square feet. The proposed dog park would have a 5-foot vinyl coated chain link fence and include a double gated ingress and egress area to allow for leashing and unleashing dogs into the separated small breed and large breed areas. It would be setback from the sidewalk and at the request of opponents not include lighting for nighttime use. Amenities include a water fountain, dog wash off area and benches.
Commissioner Horvak voted against the dog park proposal with Commissioners Deborah Toth, Tyler Payne and Mayor Lunn, voting in favor of it. Commissioner Saleene Partridge was absent. They asked staff to return with design details at a future commission meeting.