Creative Solution Could Expand Ocean City’s Dog Park

OCEAN CITY – With creative planning and financing, Ocean City’s diminutive dog park at 94th Street could triple in size with little out-of-pocket expense.

Over the last year or so, the town has been exploring ways to expand the narrow dog park on 94th Street. The Ocean City Recreation and Parks Department last year submitted a grant through the Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for a major renovation of the heavily-used 94th Street dog park.

However, that grant request was turned down for a variety of reasons, although the department is preparing to resubmit a new grant application next month for the dog park. In the meantime, Public Works Director Hal Adkins on Tuesday presented a short-term plan to the recreation and parks committee that will allow the department to triple or even quadruple the size of the dog park in the same basic footprint at little cost.

The dog park currently has a stormwater retention area, essentially a marsh, running down the length of one side. Adkins’ plan is to excavate that marshy area and backfill it with an abundance of dirt his department already has nearby at a construction depot of sorts behind the old mall. A new stormwater retention pond would be created to handle the runoff formerly handled by the marshy area.

“That whole lower area is basically just stormwater retention,” he said. “It can be excavated and filled and that will triple or maybe quadruple the size of the dog park. All of the stormwater that drains to that point will still drain there, but it will install a pond and a relatively short length of drain pipe to handle the runoff.”

Adkins called the proposed project a win-win because he already has to move the large mounds of dirt at the public works storage area behind the old mall. The original plan was to truck to a depository of sorts at the Ocean City Airport, but using it at the dog park nearby will save a lot of time and money.

“On the back side of the old mall, I have a construction site with piles and piles of dirt I have to move,” he said. “What was going to be a $100,000 project will now cost the recreation department about $20,000. I have everything I need right there behind the old mall. It’s like the stars aligned perfectly on this one.”

Recreation and Parks Director Susan Petito said her department’s funding for that segment of the dog park expansion had already been found in her capital improvement fund balance.

“The out-of-pocket expense for the public works portion of the project is estimated at around $23,000,” she said. “We’ve already found the money is available in our fund balance left over from other projects.”

Adkins’ proposed project will achieve the goals of expanding the overused dog park at 94th Street in the short term with a larger expansion and enhancement project still planned for the future if the DNR approves the grant.

“I can do the bulk of this work in a couple of weeks in August,” he said. “Then, you guys can come behind and do what you need to do with fencing and sod, etc.”

The recreation and parks committee approved the proposal unanimously. Petito said her department would move forward with the grant application to the DNR in mid-August.

“The application is due in August and we feel good about getting it this time around,” she said. “If we get the grant, we can follow up with other improvements including maybe artificial turf because natural grass is so hard to maintain in a dog park. We can also come in with some attractive fencing and maybe a water feature of some sort.”

About The Author: Shawn Soper

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Shawn Soper has been with The Dispatch since 2000. He began as a staff writer covering various local government beats and general stories. His current positions include managing editor and sports editor. Growing up in Baltimore before moving to Ocean City full time three decades ago, Soper graduated from Loch Raven High School in 1981 and from Towson University in 1985 with degrees in mass communications with a journalism concentration and history.