The city of Nelsonville is looking to expand outdoor recreation opportunities for local residents who own dogs. The city has yet to finish clearing the space for a possible new dog park, which is still in early development.
Scott Frank, the city manager for Nelsonville, said the city is looking to fill a space of open land in its industrial district once the city’s former sewage and wastewater treatment plant is bulldozed.
The new wastewater treatment plant project is projected to finish in December 2022 but will most likely be pushed back to spring 2023 due to supply chain issues and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It's just going to be a nice area for recreation,” Frank said.
Frank said there have been a few concerns from the Nelsonville community regarding the potential addition of a new park in the area. With cost being the biggest concern for residents, the city has not begun appropriating funds for the project.
“The only negative feedback that I've received is ‘How are we going to pay for it?,” Frank said. “My answer is just that we need a committee. We need volunteers to start doing fundraisers.”
In Athens, there are two dog parks — one on East State Street and one on West State Street — that are currently in use. Both Ohio University students and Athens residents have been able to use those parks.
Christine Knisely, Athens City Council president, said the Athens community has responded well to these dog parks.
“The citizens seem to appreciate it. I know we had some concerns this past summer, when, because of weather, there hadn't been as consistent of mowing at the West State Street park,” Knisely said. “That's been something that we're working to remedy ... so we can get it done on a regular basis, so it's in good shape for everybody.”
Knisely also said Council is potentially looking into supplying the East State Street dog park with solar arrays that could power the park.
With community response relatively positive, Athens residents are excited to have another community play space for their dogs.
Michael Kelly, a sophomore studying biological sciences, said dog parks are great spaces to bond with animals and offer chances for dogs to get exercise, especially for the dog he’s been dog-sitting for an extended period of time, Vita.
“Especially right now, when it's cold and with it being COVID still, I've had to keep my dog up here for pretty much a good majority of the day,” Kelly said. “Having a dog park would be nice … It'd be good exercise to go and run around and play with her, and I think, overall, it really strengthens your human-dog relationship.”