Group forms to help improve site
July 8, 2017
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Kenzie Clark and her aunt, Abby Clark, hose off Abby’s black Lab named Bailey at the Cranberry Rotary Dog Park on Thursday. A group, the Friends of the Dog Park, has formed to make improvements to the area.

CRANBERRY TWP — The township is turning to the community to get advice and support to improve the Cranberry Rotary Dog Park and learn how better to serve dog owners.

Friends of the Dog Park will meet at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the municipal center’s council chambers to talk about how residents and local officials can work together for the dogs.

“Dogs are a huge part of life, and it’s only growing,” said Pete Geis, director of the township’s parks and recreation department. “It’s a lot of exciting stuff and we’re dealing with passionate people.”

The first focus of the committee is how to improve the township’s dog park in the Community Park to make it more welcoming for dogs and their owners, Geis said.

Some ideas include adding shade trees, installing more lighting to the entrance, replacing the rocky welcome areas of the park with concrete, reinforcing the grass and redoing the drainage, said Bill Shaner, Friends of the Dog Park member.

A big goal is to build a shelter for shade, Geis said. The township hopes to partner with a community service group to help build a shelter.

“They have some great ideas coming in here,” Geis said of the committee’s feedback to the township.

The group also hopes to discuss better ways to manage and enforce the rules regarding dogs in the park.

Dogs are prohibited in all of the township’s parks except in the enclosed dog park. The dog park has three fenced in areas — two for large dogs and one for small dogs.

The dog park opened in August 2008 as a way to safely allow owners to exercise their dogs. The Cranberry Rotary Club donated $45,000 to the project. The dog park committee, made up of community members, formed to get the project off the ground and raised more than $20,000.

The Friends of the Dog Park informally got together in May. Geis said about 20 people attend each monthly meeting, but the group hopes to get more people to give input and support improvements at the dog park. The group will continue to meet on the second Tuesday of each month with Geis in the municipal building.

The group will need to do some fundraising or get sponsors to help pay for some of the improvements, Shaner said. Shaner and his wife take their dog to the park three or four times a week to socialize and exercise.

“It’s not only a chance for the dogs to enjoy themselves, but the people can enjoy themselves,” Shaner said.

Additionally, the parks and recreation department is looking into more programs for dog owners. A Halloween parade and pictures with Santa session are in the works. Geis said the township also is looking into holding classes to acclimate dogs and their owners to the dog park.

Down the road, once the dog park is improved, there will likely be talk about how to safely allow dogs in other areas of the township’s parks, Geis said.

“The challenge we have is many times dog owners don’t consider a dog park a viable solution to walking dogs in the park,” Geis said. “But we’re trying to accommodate everyone here. The dog park is our temporary solution to getting your dogs in our park.”