TREASURE ISLAND — After hours of spirited neighborly debate, over whether a dog park should be added to city-owned Roselli Park on the Isle of Capri, city commissioners decided to place the issue on their March 19 regular session agenda for a final vote.
During a City Commission work session March 5, Assistant Park Director Justin Tramble suggested commissioners could either reject the idea of locating a Dog Park at Roselli, move the item to the March 19 meeting for a formal vote or add it into the city’s master park plan to be further discussed in a more global approach to providing amenities.
The dog park would be funded by donations and those purchasing memorial pavers and benches to be located at the facility. Tramble told commissioners “over the past several months, $12,200 has been raised for the dog park,” but fund-raising efforts stopped when concerns were expressed regarding the location of the proposed dog park at Roselli Park.
Approving the dog park at Roselli will allow the fund-raising group to continue their efforts, unencumbered by thoughts that they will have to return the donations if the park is not built.
“In order to determine the feasibility of placing a dog park at Roselli Park, the Recreation Department spoke with management staff at Pinellas County, the City of St. Petersburg, the City of Pinellas Park, the City of Largo and Indian Rocks Beach. In addition to visiting several neighboring dog park facilities, staff also researched best practices as it pertains to dog park site selection, design, operations and maintenance,” Tramble said.
The recommended minimum size for a dog park varies considerably among municipalities, but is generally 1/2 acre to one acre. The initial proposed dog park dimensions at Roselli Park would be roughly 13,000 square feet. he said.
In comparison, both St. Pete Beach and Madeira Beach’s dog parks are roughly 7,000 square feet.
It is standard practice to provide at least a 50- to 200-foot buffer between the park and residences. Indian Rocks Beach has an estimated 17,000 square foot dog park that is located directly on the fence line of neighboring homes. The dog park located in St. Pete Beach is roughly 80 feet from a residential establishment.
In contrast, the dog park in ROC Park in Madeira Beach is 170 feet from a residential building. The proposed dog park at Roselli Park would be 90 feet from the closest residential building, he advised.
There have been concerns expressed regarding the distance of the dog park to the abutting sidewalk proposed at Roselli Park. To help mitigate this, a buffer would be established between the sidewalk and the proposed dog park fence. There have also been concerns of added noise an additional amenity could bring to the park. To address these concerns, adding vegetation within the buffer has been added to the proposed plans, he added.
The Roselli dog park would have a 5-foot vinyl coated chain link fence, with a double-gated accessible sally port area to allow for leashing and unleashing dogs, who would ingress or egress separated small and large breed areas.
Sod and mulch would be the primary surface material, which is observed at most dog parks in Pinellas County, Tramble said.
The entryway area would be 10 feet by 10 feet and would be a mix of concrete and brick pavers. There would need to be a 4-foot-wide ADA compliant walkway from the existing sidewalk into the entryway area. Most dog parks have benches and tables located on concrete slabs, he said.
Staff believes that a water fountain for pets and people located in the transfer area would be ideal and has included it in proposed plans. As part of fundraising efforts, the Isle of Capri Civic Association sold benches intended to be placed in the dog park.
If the commission approves the dog park, the Recreation Department will work with the fund raisers to adequately provide space for the benches in and around the proposed dog park.
The Recreation Department has also engaged the Isle of Capri Civic Association and other proponents and opponents of the potential park to gather community input, Tramble told commissioners.
“The Recreation Department received a significant amount of feedback regarding potential plans for additional lighting for the dog park. In order to mitigate this concern,” Tramble said. “Staff suggests that the hours of the dog park remain consistent with dawn to dusk. This would eliminate additional costs associated with lighting and would prevent use at night.
Those supporting the dog park said Treasure Island should have its own safe place where dogs can run and romp. They noted many dog walkers currently exercise their pooches at Roselli; offering a dog park amenity is expected to deter some dog owners from illegally letting their dogs off the leash to run on the facility’s tennis courts or baseball fields.
At least three supporters said they would clean up any dog waste left by those who didn’t pick up after their dog. They told commissioners a dog park will increase property values in the area, since the amenity is sort after by pet owners looking to buy a home.
Those against the park asserted the dog park would decrease their property values and cause nasty odors, while the sound of barking dogs will impact the lives in nearby residences. They questioned why the dog park is being expedited for Roselli Park when it could be discussed as part of the master park plan, and whether run off from dog waste would enter into the stormwater system.
Dominique Ryder, who led the fund-raising effort to build the dog park, said the city would have to address those who are opposed to it whether they propose it be built at Roselli, Treasure Bay or the Treasure Island Community Center Park.
In addressing those who objected to some commissioners donating to build the dog park effort, City Attorney Jennifer Cowan said it is not a conflict of interest since commissioners or their family members will not monetarily benefit from the donation.
Commissioners noted even if they approved the dog park at Roselli, a dog park could still be considered for other locations such as Treasure Bay or the Community Center Park.
Commissioner Saleene Partridge said she hopes the issue of where to locate a dog park will serve as momentum to get everyone interested in participating in the city’s master park plan meetings.
The city’s three master park plan public meetings are scheduled; April 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the Treasure Island Community Center, April 6 at 1 p.m. at Roselli Park, and May 6 at 6:30 p.m. at Sunset Beach Pavilion.
The Dog Park at Roselli Park will get one more public hearing before a final vote is taken on Tuesday, March 19, in City Hall at 6 p.m.