Leslie Danehy plays with Bailey and Dixie Thursday. Danehy is on a committee exploring the possibility of Kingsport building a dog park within the city limits. Photo by David Grace.
KINGSPORT — A special committee exploring the possibility of Kingsport building a dog park within the city limits is on the verge of recommending a site, according to two members of the committee.
In May, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen gave an informal nod of approval for city staff to explore the creation of a dog park in the Model City. A dog park — or an off-leash recreation area — is a fenced area where dogs may legally run, play and socialize with other dogs.
The idea first began in April through an e-mail campaign to numerous people in the community, many from Eastman Chemical Co. and Charter Communications, all asking for support for the project. The e-mail featured a pleading basset hound named “Porkchop” and asked people to contact the BMA about the issue, specifically Alderman Pat Shull.
After dozens of e-mails were sent to city leaders, the matter came before the BMA, which earmarked $40,000 toward the project as a last-minute addition to the city’s capital improvement plan for 2008.
Susan Krein, who serves on the Kingsport Parks and Recreation Committee, is the liaison to the Dog Park Committee.
“We’re still trying to narrow down the property,” Krein said. “We have started already looking into what rules are going to apply, and we’ve just started coming up with what we want the application to look like, what we’ll charge and the entry guidelines.”
The Dog Park Committee has looked at more than 20 sites within the city, including Cloud Park, the Kingsport Mill property, Cement Hill, Weyerhaeuser Park, Borden Park, General Shale Brick property and some properties along the Greenbelt.
Lori Jones, chair of the Dog Park Committee, said the two sites having the greatest possibility are at Hunter Wright Stadium and some city-owned property along Millye Street. A third possible site at the Kingsport Industrial Park is in the floodway, and Jones said it probably wouldn’t be recommended.
“It’s great for the dogs. We don’t have anywhere we can take them to let them run out and play and socialize a great deal with other dogs,” Jones said.
A recommendation on the site would be coming soon to the BMA, Jones said.
“We’ve spent a great deal of time over the past few months trying to find a location, working with parks and rec, looking at various properties — the pros and cons,” Jones said. “It’s been a long process, but we’ve made a great deal of progress over the past few months.”
Proponents say dog parks allow dogs to exercise and socialize safely, reduce the number of dogs off leash in other areas of the community, and promote responsible dog ownership.
Krein said the committee would probably recommend a two-acre site for the dog park, which would have such features as water and trees and benches for the owners. The fence would be a gated entry, and the park would likely be split into two sections — one for small and older dogs and the other for large dogs.
“There would be an ongoing Dog Park Committee who would run the park, who would then do the fund-raisers to get things for dogs to run through or jump over,” Krein said.
Leslie Danehy, who serves on the Dog Park Committee, recently graduated from the University of Tennessee and moved back to Kingsport this year. Danehy, who owns two dogs in Kingsport and another in Knoxville, said the whole process has been good for her.
“I’ve been surprised with the community support as far as getting people involved with it and city leaders to be able to help out with different location sites,” Danehy said. “It’s been a blessing and has kept me busy with things to do, and I’m able to meet a lot of people through it.”
Johnson City’s Dog Park is located at Willow Springs Park off Huffine Road and is just under two acres in size. From April through September membership fees are $35 for one dog and $20 for each additional dog. From October through March the fees are $17.50 and $10, respectively.