For the past few months there has been a lively conversation on Next Door San Marco about the pros and cons of a new dog park. My understanding of the request is basically an off-leash park. Dogs are allowed in current parks but must be on leash.
Some dog parks are covered, are divided between dog sizes/breeds, and /or offer special play areas and other amenities. Most dog parks in the City (Ed Austin and Riverside, for example) are adopted by organizations responsible for regular clean-up and maintenance. The Riverside example some refer to is under an FDOT right of way and at least partially covered.
One suggestion that was floated was to convert part of the current Alexandria Oaks Park to a dog park. Many immediate neighbors object and they have reminded me of the neighborhood assessment of all San Marco Parks done a number of years ago that identified the need for a passive open space which this park fills, not to mention the lack of parking. I was reminded of the need to resist the clamor to fill up our parks with one specific use or another when I recently watched the PBS film on Frederick Law Olmstead. You may recall him as the designer of Central Park and our very own Memorial Park. He specifically spoke to the many requests he encountered to add one feature after another to Central Park and the importance of maintaining open passive space. Not all open space is “under-utilized”. It simply serves a different function and can fill many gaps in facilities. I have personally enjoyed launching rockets in the park with my son, and know his soccer team had many unofficial practices there. There is also an approved mixed- use PUD for Jackson Square across the railroad tracks that contemplated the park would meet the recreation and open space needs of its residents. With that background, I don’t think this is the right place to carve out a dog park.
I do support the idea of locating one in the greater San Marco/San Jose area and have asked our Parks Director, Daryl Joseph, to provide a list of potential locations for consideration. It appears much of the interest is coming from the Granada/Colonial Manor neighborhoods but I don’t think Greenridge Park or Granada Park are ideal locations either. I have heard that there is a private dog park operator who may be locating a facility on Kings north of Atlantic but that area is an option to consider as are several other parcels along Kings further north. We are also looking for sites further south and I noticed a parcel on Old St Augustine where there is a retention pond that might be an option. I will keep you informed once I get a list of potential sites. If we can agree on one, it would then be up to the community to raise some of the funds for construction as has been done elsewhere.