Marietta's Jackson Hill Park doesn't see a lot of use these days but some local folks believe that area could be "reborn" if a community dog park is located there.
"If we can use this location as a dog park, with the picnic area and playground, I think it would represent a new beginning for Jackson Hill Park," said Teresa Hayes.
For the last couple of years Hayes has lobbied Marietta City Council's lands, buildings and parks committee to establish a facility where area residents can exercise their pets, off-leash.
Several locations have been considered, including Buckeye Park, Lookout Park, and more recently Indian Acres Park. But on Wednesday it appeared that a suitable location had been found as committee members met with Hayes and fellow dog park supporters at Jackson Hill Park.
Committee chairman Harley Noland, D-at large, noted the park still has a picnic shelter and playground equipment, and water would be available for people and pets.
"This shelter is a great place where people can rest in the shade while their dogs get some exercise," he said. "I see this as a positive development where families can come with pets or just to have a picnic or other family activities."
The approximate 2-acre dog park would be in a large open area bounded by a stand of tall pines along the north side of Jackson Hill Park. Hayes said the facility would be surrounded by a 4 to 6-foot fence and would eventually include separate areas for small and large dogs.
Reno resident John Kidd said there are thousands of licensed dogs in the Marietta area and owners need a place to exercise their pets.
"It benefits everyone," he said. "In Columbus the dog park at Victorian Village is used all the time. You can see every breed of dog there."
Dog owner Carol McKitrick noted that a dog park was recently installed at Mountwood Park near U.S. 50 in Wood County, W.Va.
Councilman Denver Abicht, D-at large, asked if there would be rules for use of the dog park and if dogs like pit bulls be allowed into the area.
"Pit bulls are not aggressive as a rule, unless they're trained to be aggressive," Hayes said. "Owners who have trained their dogs to be aggressive would not likely be using this facility."
Councilman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, voiced some concern about who would be responsible to maintain the fenced-in dog park area.
"We have problems with maintaining what we already have in the city," he said. "And if a group fails to maintain an area they're responsible for, the maintenance falls back on the city."
"We will take care of the maintenance," Hayes said of her group.
"We have discussed this and it will be taken care of."
Noland said the group has to have council's approval for the location of the dog park before they can begin raising funds to build the facilities.
He said a map would have to be drawn, showing the proposed area of the park at Jackson Hill, then presented to council before legislation can be developed for approval of the project.
Noland said he believed the legislation could be introduced during the second regular city council session in September.
Hayes noted that $2,500 has already been donated for the facility through the Marietta Community Foundation and anyone who wants to contribute to the fund can send a tax-deductible donation for the Marietta Community Dog Park to the Marietta Community Foundation, P.O. Box 77, Marietta, 45750-0077.
She said the exact cost to fence in the dog park has not been determined as the exact dimensions are not yet available.
Hayes said volunteers are always welcome to work with the dog park development group and anyone interested can call 376-0281.