TREASURE ISLAND — Those who use the quarter-acre Isle of Palms Park, regularly referred to as Triangle Park, at 112th Avenue and 3rd Street East, would like to see a portion of it cordoned off for a dog run.

However, City Commissioner John Doctor shot down the request at a March 22 meeting stating the city charter doesn’t permit a dog park area to also be used as a multi-purpose facility, which was a suggestion by supporters.

According to a presentation made to the City Commission by Recreation Director Kathy Hayduke in October, improvements planned for the pocket park, using a state grant, include “dog-friendly amenities,” but not a fenced area for them to play and run in.

The city was approved for a Florida Department of Environmental Protection Communities Trust Grant for $286,024, or 70% of the total project cost, whichever is lower. The city committed to providing $122,581, or 30% of the project costs, whichever is lower. Also, at that time the city agreed to purchase a leased portion of the park area for $400,000, with acquisition costs of $8,606 for a total purchase price of $408,606.

“We have to make sure we have three recreational items at the park” and promise the land will remain a park in perpetuity, Hayduke explained at a previous meeting.

The recreation director said the city committed to upgrading park facilities. Upgrades include the removal of the shuffleboard court to be replaced with an open space event area and decreasing the pervious surface area of the park to improve stormwater drainage. 

In addition, existing playground equipment would be removed and replaced with modern play equipment and engineered mulch surfacing for improved safety. 

Other amenities include picnic tables, a water fountain and dog-friendly amenities. A sidewalk/walking trail will be created on the southwest side of the property to link the park entrances and provide additional connectivity to the surrounding sidewalk network for increased accessibility to the public beach and the Central Beach Trail.

During the March 22 meeting, Isle of Palms resident Michelle Oglesby said that while residents appreciate the improvements to the park and the ability to provide public input, her group was disappointed when they heard there wasn’t enough interest in a dog park.

“The feedback was very strong that we were interested in off-leash areas for our dogs to play,” she said. “There are very few children in Isle of Palms … we want to share the park and allow both activities to occur.”

Oglesby cited a neighborhood survey of 114 people with 94 supporting allowing dogs to play off-leash, 13 opposed and 7 not caring either way. Seventy-two of the respondents had dogs, with 22 saying they did not.

Opponents said the city already has a dog park at Rosselli Park, “but it’s not convenient for the residents,” Oglesby said.

Another resident, Katie Pultone, said most of the people who use the park are dog owners. “It’s just a community thing; a lot of us dog owners just want a place to get together and talk about the community, and let our dogs get together and hang out and just do it safely,” Pultone said. “I know we’re not supposed to have our dogs off leash, but there are moments when dogs get off leash. We don’t want to put anyone in a situation where they’re getting hit by cars or anything, because I know personally I won’t be able to live with myself if I hit somebody else’s dog.”

Doctor said he got a copy of the residents survey, “and it’s flawed.”

He said the commission can’t consider a multipurpose use — both dog park and regular park. “It’s not possible, the ordinance does not allow for that,” he said. “It’s a dog-friendly park, but they need to be on the leash.”

In contrast, Rosselli Park has a fenced area that is designated solely for use by large and small dogs.

Vice mayor balloting

Commissioner John Doctor nominated himself to be considered to serve as the city’s vice mayor, challenging Commissioner Saleene Partridge, who currently holds the post and was nominated by two other commissioners.

However, the commission voted 3-2 to retain Partridge in the position, with Mayor Tyler Payne supporting Doctor. Partridge was recently unchallenged and reelected to her seat on the City Commission.

Under the city’s charter, the vice mayor represents the mayor in his absence at events and during City Commission proceedings.

Commissioner Beth Wetzel nominated Partridge, saying “she is doing a good job; meetings with the two of you (Payne and Partridge) run smoothly.” Commissioner Debra Toth seconded Partridge’s nomination.

The mayor asked if there were any other nominations, adding that members could self-nominate.

 “I’ll self-nominate,” said Doctor.

Doctor said it would be good to have different opportunities and different voices, but his effort came up short.

Payne noted that since he was first elected to the commission in 2018, he felt the position should be rotated among commissioners.

His vote “has nothing to do with your service as vice mayor,” he told Partridge.