By Kevin Collison
Downtown’s growing canine population–and their owners–will have another place to romp free next month when the Downtown Council opens a one-half acre dog park at the southwest corner of Seventh and Walnut.
The new, off-leash dog park will be the second operated by the Council’s Community Improvement District, the other is in the River Market at Fifth and Locust.
It’s also the fourth fenced enclosure for free-range dogs in greater downtown. The Parks and Recreation Department operates unleashed dog parks at Penn Valley Park and West Terrace Park.
Jared Campbell, the downtown residential liaison for the Council, said the new dog park is a response to a survey of residents his organization is close to completing.
“It came from our rate payers that are the residential buildings in the CID,” he said. “It was hammered home in the preliminary results of the residential survey that a dog park was the number one item on the list.”
Sean O’Byrne, vice president of the Council in charge of the CID, reached out to Tower Properties, which owns the vacant lot, and asked if could be available for a dog park.
Thomas “Buzz” Willard, CEO of Town Properties, said his firm readily agreed.
“There’s obviously more and more people living downtown and there needs to be a place for them to take their dogs,” he said.
“There was nothing fancy other than us saying, ‘why not?’ We have no immediate use for the land.”
The dog park property is the former location of the Grand Opera House at 704 Walnut. The opera house opened in 1891, but was converted to a parking garage in 1926. It ultimately was razed in 2007.
Campbell said the dog park will be open throughout the week. There is no key fob required and people can freely bring their pets to romp in the fenced area at any time of day.
The Council CID is still installing benches, and the park is expected to open later in May.
“We understand the importance of having green space for dog owners downtown and we’re trying to find creative ways to provide that in an urban setting,” Campbell said.
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