Case Study: Transforming an underused floodplain into a PAWpular dog park

The City of Stockbridge, GA opened its first off-leash park in March 2014. Of the three parks the City manages - Clark Park, Gardner Park, and Hidden Valley Park - Clark Park is one of the city's most popular parks with two pavilions, restrooms, a walking track, grilling area, a newly installed playground, and the new off-leash dog park.

Clark Park is the only one of their parks that offers separate fenced-in areas where small and large dogs can roam freely in their designated spaces. About 1 acre of the 11.8 acres was designated for the dog park, providing a new recreational space for community members and their pets.

Drainage considerations were certainly a top priority as the dog park was located in a repurposed floodplain. The Public Works department was able to work through the challenges by installing walking paths, sitting areas, and plants at the lowest part of the park. They installed the main agility equipment in higher zones. On a particularly wet area, an underdrain system was installed to help divert storm water to a pond which now results in more effective drainage after storms.

The dog park is located in a semi-wooded area and features three separate double-gated entrances. Two areas are designated for large dogs (over 20 pounds) and one area for small dogs (under 20 pounds), which helps protect the smaller dogs form the larger ones. Mulch and grass are used as surfacing and existing oaks and pines are used for natural shade. Black vinyl coated chain link fence was installed around the perimeter of the park to further designate the area and promote security.

Clark-Community-Park.jpg#asset:10592Benches, water stations, and agility equipment are additional design features that further enhance the park experience for dog owners and their dogs. Adjacent to the park is ample parking, restrooms, and a pavilion for those visiting the park.

The City Council had initially authorized capital funds under SPLOST III (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax) for a dog park in the city of Stockbridge but then had to pass an ordinance to allow its construction since this was the first dog park to be created in the area and current city codes did not allow dog parks.

City council members approved an amendment to the city code in December 2013 to allow an off-leash dog park within the Stockbridge city limits. The city council was successful in establishing the designated off-leash area of dogs within public city parks to serve the recreational needs of residents who own dogs without disregarding the rights of those residents that do not own dogs.

The establishment of this new off-leash dog park provides a variety of benefits for the citizens and the community at large, such as exercise and social interaction for dogs and their owners. According to Kevin Walter, Public Works Director, "The dog park has been much needed. Stockbridge citizens have been requesting it for some time and now that it's open, it has proven to be very successful."

At first, the dog park was to charge a small fee to the public as other dog parks in the county do; all dogs using the park were to be registered with the Stockbridge City Clerk's office and eventually pay a registration fee. Although this was the original plan, they have decided to offer it free to all people in the community.


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