Dog park opens amid controversy

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Concord Council members cut the ribbon for the new dog park on Smithbridge Road. From left are John Gillespie, Dominic Pileggi, John Crossan, and Dana Rankin.

Not everyone is happy about Concord Township’s new dog park.

“This is a nice enough dog park for small dogs,” said Maureen Hewitt, one of a group of township residents who want to keep open the old park on Bethel Road, “but it’s right on Smithbridge Road, a busy part of Smithbridge. The dog park we’ve had for 20 years is incredible. It has huge paddocks. You’re taking this dog park from a secluded, lovely spot to a major road. [This new park] cost $250,000. The money is already spent. We just want the other park kept open.”

Dog owners want the Bethel Road park kept open.

In a press release issued two days before the park opened Saturday, dog trainer Bob Birney was quoted as saying the new park is “inadequate in every way. There is no shade, so there is a concern for heat exhaustion. There is not enough room for large dogs to run, so there won’t be enough room for the number of dogs that usually are exercised at the Bethel Road Dog Park. Dogs don’t need obstacle courses, and they need room to run. Plus, the fence is much too short. There are dogs who can leap that fence easily. I certainly could imagine a fast dog making it to the walking trail, or to the playground, or Smithbridge Road.”

Approximately 50 people showed up for the opening of the park. About a dozen or so came with signs saying they want the Bethel Road site kept open.

During the grand opening Saturday, Council President Dominic Pileggi said there are no plans to take down the paddocks at the Bethel Road park and that there are no plans for anything there before a study is done to develop a master plan.

“No ultimate decisions have been made, but I don’t think we’d be doing our job if we commit to keeping it open or to closing it until we study all the options,” Pileggi said. “Until we do the study, a good decision can’t be made.”

Big guys on one side, little guys on the other.

Council Vice President John Gillespie said the reason for having the new park at the township complex was to “try to centralize all our activities, at least that’s my slant on it.”

Gillespie, as did Pileggi, said no decision has been made on keeping or closing the Bethel Road park until a use study has been conducted. “I know people don’t believe that,” he said, “but we haven’t sat down to decide whether we’re going to keep it open or close it.”

He added that the study would involve hiring a consultant to determine the best use of the Bethel Road site.

The fenced-off area is split into two sections, one for small dogs — 30 pounds or less — and a section for the larger dogs, more than 30 pounds.

Inside both sections are obstacles for training, while outside the fence is a watering station for humans and dogs. One specific concern expressed Saturday was that there was no designated place for dog waste.

About Rich Schwartzman

Rich Schwartzman has been reporting on events in the greater Chadds Ford area since September 2001 when he became the founding editor of The Chadds Ford Post. In April 2009 he became managing editor of ChaddsFordLive. He is also an award-winning photographer.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Rob Gurnee

    The old dog park was awesome, for all the reasons stated in the article! Such a beautiful and laid back setting. The new dog park is part of “PECO Park,” the not so affectionately nicknamed complex dominated by high voltage power lines, a mind numbing paved running trail, no shade, and crowds. Suburbia at its worst!

  2. Kimberlee

    I would like to know who approved the fence height. Obviously the person or persons are not dog owners. You can Forget the shade issue I can go in the evenings or they can plant some trees. however my dog jumping the fence and getting run over on Smithbridge Road is a much higher concern. Also with such a low fence kids can come right up to the side and stick their hands over. While responsible dog owners are always watching their dog my 70 pound dogs head will surely be above the fence if a child is sticking a friendly hand over for petting.

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