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Longboat Key Wednesday, Jul. 21, 2021 6 months ago

Bayfront Park's dog park temporarily closes for resodding

The town plans to reopen the dog park in early September.
by: Mark Bergin Staff Writer

Longboat Key has temporarily closed the dog park at Bayfront Park to install new sod. 

Longboat Key’s park within a park is set to reopen in early September.

“The town was very, very responsive,” dog owner Peter Larson said. “I am very pleased with how the town of Longboat Key handled this matter, and I personally feel that they did it in a very expeditious manner. I was afraid there was going to be a lot of red tape and bureaucracy.”

Larson and other dog owners who regularly take their furry friends to Bayfront Park pushed town leaders to resod.

Streets, Facilities, Parks and Recreation Manager Mark Richardson said the town paid Bradenton-based Prestige Sod Service $6,250 for the project. In April, Richardson had estimated for the resodding to cost up to $10,000.

Richardson said the town picked Prestige because the company offered the lowest bid among the three the town received.

“Everybody seemed pretty excited that the town decided to resod it, so everything’s been pretty positive,” Richardson said. “Obviously…being closed for two months doesn’t sit well with everybody, but that’s…when you lay sod whether it’s at your house or whether’s in a park, you have to let it take root so it will last as long as possible, and that’s typically a two-month process with sod.”

Crews laid down the sod on Monday. Richardson said August and September tend to be the slowest months for the dog park and also when it is warmest and rainiest. 

“You definitely don’t want to lay sod in cool months or in winter months, and it just coincides where the best growing for sod is during the summer when it is raining and it is warmer,” Richardson said. “And, it just coincides as well that (there are) less people here typically during the summer, so it just kind of worked out well, all the way around, in my opinion.”

Richardson said the town would plan to allocate funding in its capital budget to resod the dog park every three years. Bayfront Park’s dog park opened in 2017.

“We’re learning as we go as well on how often grass might need to be replaced,” Richardson said. “We went four years, so we’re going to put money in every three years. And then, be able to judge at that point, ‘Hey, can it wait another year or do we need to just, it’s budgeted this year, let’s go ahead and do it?’”

Larson said he had suggested for the town to resod in two phases, alternating between Bayfront Park’s small-dog park and the large-dog park. Ultimately, the town decided to do both at the same time.

“It’s a little bit of an inconvenience, but it’s going to be worth it long term,” Larson said.

For the next few weeks, Richardson and the usual Bayfront dog park community have relocated their morning routines to Joan M. Durante Park at 5550 Gulf of Mexico Drive. Dogs are required to wear a leash at Durante Park.

The dog park at Bayfront Park is the only public area in the town of Longboat Key that allows dogs to legally be unleashed. However, leashed dogs are still allowed at Bayfront Park even with the resodding process underway.

The town has also provided several alternate dog-friendly parks.


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Mark Bergin is the Longboat Key Town Hall reporter for the Observer. He has previously worked as a senior digital producer at WTSP, the CBS affiliate in St. Petersburg. Mark is a graduate of the University of Missouri and grew up in the Chicagoland area.

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