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Dog park plans good to go

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Plans call for the fenced facility to open sometime in April or May near the old pump station in the Shoals section, across the railroad tracks from the main park. It will, however, remain a work in progress.

"There's ample opportunity for fundraising to improve it," County Manager Jamie McCord told members of the Joint Services Committee. "We're right at budget, if not a little short."

The 2013 special purpose, local option sales tax package contains $25,000 for the project.

McCord estimated the bare essentials at between $17,200 and $33,750, depending on how the labor is apportioned. Private contractors would be faster; public works crews would be cheaper.

"The only issue is timing," City Manager Sammy Rich explained. "Our people have to fit it in with other projects."

City and county commissioners asked the managers to go slow, if necessary, and do what they can to save money for extras such as wash stations, leash racks and agility equipment.

"It should be more than a fence," City Commissioner Evie McNiece said. "If people see it and get excited about it, I think fundraising would be so much easier."

Rich said that, in addition to interest from animal advocacy and community groups, some Eagle Scout prospects may want to do projects at the site.

For now, the dog park will be a vinyl-fence enclosure with a central entrance and three separated sections: one for small dogs, one for large dogs and one for rotation, so heavily used areas can rest and recover.

Access will be via electronic key-cards, which will be free to residents and visitors once they've shown their animal's vaccinations are up to date. A security system and some kind of sun shade also are planned.

McCord said the facility will need to have four to six waste stations with doggie bags and receptacles, at about $300 each. Signage is budgeted at about $500 and the water fountains will cost between $3,000 and $9,000 all together.

"They have to be special dog fountains, which let the bowl fill up and drain away slowly," McCord said. "They range in price, depending on how they're constructed. We'll need three."

There's also a list of optional equipment, starting with wash stations. The heavy-duty elevated grooming tubs cost about $1,500 each, plus plumbing.

Utility leash racks are estimated at $400 each and agility equipment — sets of tunnels, rings, hurdles, beams and other challenges for interactive play —  can cost thousands of dollars. Shipping and installation charges also factor into the price.

Ridge Ferry Park was the favored location for residents polled. McCord and Rich noted that having parking, restrooms and utilities already on site made the project feasible with the SPLOST money allotted.