Ocean City Dog Park Eyes October Opening

OCEAN CITY – The Ocean City Dog Playground is nearing completion, and dog owners will soon be able to purchase their membership passes for the official dog park.

At a Recreation and Parks meeting this week, the progress of the dog park was discussed, along with final decisions on membership prices.

Recreation and Parks Director Tom Shuster explained that although crews had hit some minor roadblocks recently with storm water drainage, they are hopeful that the dog park will be open by the end of October.

The Dog Playground is located on a rectangular plot of land along 94th Street just behind the existing tennis courts and children’s playground. The park will be available from dusk till dawn, with the entrance to the park being controlled by an electronic scanning device, which will not only control the hours of operation, but will also check an identification card to make sure the user is registered and has paid their fees.

The Dog Playground will be divided into two different areas to ensure safety between dogs of differing sizes. The two areas will include one for dogs weighing 28 pounds or less, and one for larger dogs weighing more than 28 pounds. Once inside the gated areas, dogs will be allowed to run free.

To be granted access to the new Dog Playground, owners must register their canine companions with the town and pay a yearly or weekly fee for access to the park. Earlier in the year, it was decided the fee for residents would be $70 per year and $140 per year for non-residents. Visitors can purchase a seven-day pass for $15.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the issue of the 2007 partial year fee arose, with Shuster suggesting that members pay half-price for their 2007 membership with monetary credit being put toward their 2008 membership.

Councilman Jim Hall suggested the 2008 pass be sold when the park opens, essentially giving members 15 months of access for the price of 12. This will not only be easier for members but will also provide an incentive for people to join the park.

The commission agreed the 2008 passes would be sold when the park opens. Shuster explained that the gates would be installed soon, which marks the nearing of completion. He predicted membership passes would be sold at the beginning of October with the park opening soon after that.

When the Dog Playground opens, all access to the current and unofficial dog park behind the Art League building will be cut off. The Dog Playground will be the only official dog park in Ocean City and will also be the only recreational area where dogs are permitted to roam leash-free.