Another dogged debate could become unleashed later this year before the Longboat Key Town Commission.
The provisional Rotary Club of Longboat Key is seeking support for a dog park, most likely at Bayfront Park, where dogs could play unleashed with their owners.
“The role the Rotary Club is going to play is to muster support,” said provisional club member Bill Anderson, who believes his labradoodle, Fluffy, would enjoy a dog park. “We want to make sure all the dog-friendly people follow this issue so we don’t get sidetracked.”
According to Anderson, allowing dogs to play unleashed is essential to the proposal.
“Longboat Key is a leashed dog park, and we want an unleashed park,” he said.
The club hopes that potential supporters can meet up during the Hot Diggity Dog Parade it’s organizing for the July 4 Longboat Key Freedom Fest.
“Our hope is to find out if people are interested in pursuing this issue,” said provisional club member Mary Lou Johnson.
A group of members met in May with Longboat Key Public Works Department staff to explore the issue.
Anderson said the group could approach the commission by the end of the year but expects that bringing the concept to fruition could take 18 to 24 months, based on what members learned from town staff.
It won’t be the first time the issue has hounded the commission.
In 2007, residents asked the commission to consider a lot at Gulf of Mexico and Tarawitt drives for a dog park.
Former Town Manager Bruce St. Denis told the commission the town had already weighed the options for a possible location and determined the best place was Joan M. Durante Park, although Bayfront Park Recreation Center was also a possibility.
But staff research showed that Bayfront Park site might have been more appropriate because it had shade, closer parking and, unlike Durante Park, is not close to a children’s playground.
With the town beginning discussions with Sarasota County about obtaining the adjacent Albritton property, the commission opted to table dog park discussions, citing the need for an overall concept plan for the site.
In 2011, the Dog Beach Feasibility Committee formed to explore issues related to allowing dogs on the beach, but the commission opted not to discuss the issue further.
Anderson said the group would not seek to allow dogs on the beach. He explained why he believes a dog park would benefit the community.
“I think we recognize this dog park is more than a dog park in terms of bringing people together,” Anderson said. “Dog parks usually exceed everyone’s expectations as a gathering spot.”
Pets are allowed in Joan M. Durante Park with a leash of 8 feet or less. Pets, other than animals used for assisting individuals with disabilities, are prohibited from other town parks, the public beach, public beach accesses, Beer Can Island and other town islands.
Contact Robin Hartill at [email protected]