Ocean City Dog Park Expansion Plans Moving Forward

Ocean City Dog Park Expansion Plans Moving Forward
The dog park located off 94th Street in Ocean City is pictured. File Photo

OCEAN CITY — A plan to substantially expand the town’s dog park at 94th Street will now move ahead after some questions about ownership of a stormwater retention area were resolved.

During a recent Recreation and Parks Committee meeting, Public Works Director Hal Adkins presented a creative plan for the first phase of the expansion of the diminutive dog park at 94th Street. 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 and other material his department already has nearby at a construction depot of sorts behind the old Ocean Plaza Mall property. A new stormwater retention pond would be created to handle the runoff formerly handled by the marshy area.

During a meeting on Monday, the creative plan to expand the dog park, which could double or triple its current size, was presented to the Mayor and Council during a review of the minutes of last week’s committee meeting. No action was required and no vote was taken to move forward with the project, but Councilman Dennis Dare had a few questions he wanted to resolve before giving the project his blessing.

For one, Dare questioned if the proposed stormwater retention pond was large enough to handle all of the runoff for the entire former Ocean Plaza Mall property.

“When Ocean Plaza Mall was built, that area was the stormwater management for the entire 40 acres,” he said. “This looks like it reduces the size of the stormwater retention pond. I think that area is stormwater management for the entire mall property.”

City Manager Doug Miller answered that question, pointing out advances in technology require less area for stormwater management for a property that size.

Next, Dare questioned if the proposed expansion of the dog park and the associated filling in of the existing marshy area was even possible because of ownership questions.

“There could be a question of ownership,” he said. “I’m not sure we even own it or have an easement.”

However, Adkins said he and his staff had researched the deeds and land records and determined the town did indeed own the property around the existing dog park.

“It appears we purchased it some time ago with Program Open Space money,” he said. “We own it and there are no impediments on that end for doing this project.”

Over the last year or so, the town has been exploring ways to expand the narrow dog park on 94th Street in the general area as the Ocean City Art League building and the old Ocean Plaza Mall. The 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, Adkins’ plan will allow the department to double or triple the size of the dog park in the same basic footprint at very little cost.

Because the public works department has the materials, manpower and other resources to do the first phase of the project in-house, it will come in with a price tag much lower than expected. What was once expected to cost around $100,000 can be accomplished for around $20,000 by doing it in-house. Meanwhile, the recreation and parks department will prepare a grant application to the state for a later second phase including some attractive fencing, potentially a water feature and maybe some artificial turf in certain areas.

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.