Dog park plans coming closer to fruition

January 24, 2020
By Marcy Shortuse

BY MARCY SHORTUSE – Many mourned the closing of the 7th Street dog park last September, but there is also anticipation in the air, as the opening of a new dog park is in our very near future. In fact, some of our four-legged and two-legged residents are already utilizing the new location where our future dog park will be.
According to Lee County, dog waste bag stations and trash receptacles have already been placed at the field on Wheeler Road, where the future dog park will be.
In November, Lee County Parks & Recreation held a very brief public meeting regarding the proposed dog park being built at that particular site and offered up two potential parks – one was a “bare bones” (no pun intended) park with minimal landscaping and a smaller big dog and little dog partitioned area. The second plan included many more amenities and was larger, which also meant the ballfield would no longer exist.
Jessie Lavender, executive director of Lee County Parks & Recreation, said the County is working with a design firm to produce plans and a cost estimate for the new park. It is anticipated that the County will go through with the full-scale, larger park.
Right now, Lavender said he couldn’t provide clear construction or completion dates.
While there was some contention among some of the neighbors on Wheeler Road, the paper ballots that were handed out in the meeting in November, as well as the many emails and phone calls to the County, showed overwhelming support for the project.
When The Gasparilla Inn & Club closed the park last fall to begin construction on a new project that includes new cottages, new fitness facilities, a new tennis club and more, Inn administrators asked Lee County how they could help in expediting plans for a new dog park.
After all, for many years the dog park was where deals were made, where the society gossip was dished out … and that’s just between the dogs.