A month after hearing from a resident worried about unleashed dogs running close to children playing at Payne Park, city commissioners said Tuesday Jan. 22, they want to leash put into effect a law in the park.
Although a current city ordinance requires pet owners to keep dogs on a leash at several city parks — including Bayfront Park, Island Park (also known as Ken Thompson) and Arlington Park — there is no such regulation at Payne Park or other parks in the city.
In addition to requiring that all pet owners have their dogs on leashes while in Payne Park, the city could also prohibit dogs in the playground area.
Commissioner Shannon Snyder suggested that the city use vacant property on Ringling Boulevard, where the old police station stood, as a dog park so dog owners will have an alternative place to let their dogs run untethered.
“There is plenty of parking,” Snyder said. “It is away from the kids.”
Although the land is not currently being used, the city might find a future use for it, although, according to Snyder that probably won’t be for another 20 years.
“Hmmm, I like that idea,” Mayor Suzanne Atwell said of the dog-park concept.
Later in the meeting, Atwell said she still preferred that a dog park be located within Payne Park.
Snyder said the property bordering the new police department headquarters was close enough to offer views of the park.
“It is a good size, and there is a lot of shade,” he said.
The new park would be in step with the trend of new canine parks opening.
Another property bordering U.S. 301 could also be available for use as a dog park.
Todd Kucharski, general manager of the city’s Landscape Parks and Environment, said he would put together a list of options for a dog park and different kinds of leash regulations in Payne Park. Kucharski would get community input, and as the next step, the city’s Parks, Recreation and Environmental Protection Advisory Board would review the options.