So Far So Good With Dog Park

OCEAN CITY – The new Ocean City Dog Playground may have opened with little fanfare Dec. 3, but the park has met success during its early stages, with 42 passes sold during the first weeks of operation, according to the city.

At a Recreation and Parks Commission meeting this week, Tom Shuster, director of Recreation and Parks, reported that the Dog Playground was doing well so far and receiving positive feedback.

In the six weeks since the Dog Playground opened and became the town’s only official dog park, 42 passes have been sold, bringing in $1,807, “which is pretty good when you roll something out in the winter,” Shuster said. The Dog Playground is located on a rectangular plot of land along 94th Street just behind the existing tennis courts and children’s playground.

So far the majority of passes sold have been annual, resident passes, with three dog owners purchasing non-resident, annual passes. A number of weekly passes were also sold during the holidays.

The current price for a dog park pass is $50 for an annual resident pass, $100 for an annual non-resident pass, and $15 for a weekly pass. The weekly pass requires a $5 deposit that is reimbursed when the dog park pass is returned, making the weekly pass essentially $10. Free, one-day trial passes have also been made available, giving people the option to test out the new park before purchasing a one-year pass. All passes must be obtained from Northside Park, and entrance to the park is only accessible with the use of the pass.

The dog park consists of two areas, one for little dogs weighing 28 pounds or less, and one for larger dogs weighing more than 28 lbs. The park is open from dusk till dawn, with the entrance to the park controlled by an electronic scanning device. The scanning device not only controls the hours of operation, but also checks an identification card to make sure the user is registered and has paid their fees.

“The system that we have, it’s a very effective and efficient system,” Shuster said, explaining that the automated gates alleviate the strain of having a staff member at the park at all times to monitor access. The gate access can be monitored and controlled from Northside Park and the gates can even be opened and closed from there.

“We can produce a daily report of people coming and going into the park,” Shuster said, noting that the report can monitor if people are letting others into the park.

Because the pass must be used to get in and out of the enclosed area, Shuster can tell from daily reports whether someone entered the gate and then let another, non-member, into the area. For example, if a report showed someone going in once and out twice, it would indicate that they had possibly opened the door for someone else. “That’s how we would know if someone was letting someone in,” Shuster said.

So far the only complaint has been in regards to an intermittently wet area in the large-dog section of the park. Shuster explained that snow fencing had been placed around that section of the dog park and will remain there until the area dries out.

Shuster explained that the water fountain, located outside of the enclosure, would not be turned on until temperatures warmed up again in the spring.

Committee member Joe Mitrecic pointed out many of the residents who have purchased passes so far live all over town, noting that the park is not just serving nearby residents of the dog park.

“I’ve been hearing a lot of good stuff so far,” said Committee member Lloyd Martin.

“I’m happy with the way it turned out. We had some problems along the way but I think it turned out well,” said Shuster.

A grand opening of the Dog Playground will be held sometime this spring.