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Stables Park: Dog park may exceed fundraisers’ goal

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

Georgetown County is open to a partnership with residents who want to fund a dog play area at Stables Park, but the $30,000 goal for a private fundraising effort now under way “is a very low number,” said Beth Goodale, the county Parks and Recreation director.

Goodale was due to meet with organizers of the dog park project last week. “Nobody showed up,” she said.

The effort was launched last month after the town of Pawleys Island tightened enforcement of its leash law so owners can no longer allow their dogs to run in the surf. The town follows state law in requiring dogs to be on a leash when off their owner’s property.

Ryan Everhart, who started a campaign on GoFundMe.com for the dog park, could not be reached this week. The effort has raised almost $800.

The county included a dog park in its master plan for Stables Park. Since it wasn’t included in the first phase of development, the cost estimate only covers fencing for a 1-acre site near the former Litchfield Plantation stables. The actual cost “really depends on the project and the scope,” Goodale said. The county will also factor in the operating and maintenance costs.

The online effort isn’t the only potential source of funds. Goodale said she was also contacted by a private foundation interested in building a dog park as a memorial.

She has looked at dog parks from Myrtle Beach to North Charleston. The city of Georgetown was also interested in a dog park “so I’ve done a lot of research,” Goodale said.

The key component, and possibly the most expensive, is the surface. “Unless you have acres and acres, there is no way to have grass,” Goodale said. The surface has to be cleanable and well-drained. Gravel and sand are options, depending on the size. “It has to be paw-friendly,” she said. “I’m pretty particular.”

There are also artificial surfaces, known generically as “dog grass.” Those are more expensive, Goodale said.

Developing a dog park will also mean extending the exiting road and utilities at Stables Park past the ballfields and creating parking. Water fountains, restrooms and any structures will also add to the cost. It’s important to strike the right balance between the amenities and the cost to make sure people actually use the facility, Goodale said.

“On Waccamaw Neck, I know there is interest in a dog park,” she said. “If a partnership comes about, wonderful. We’re certainly open to partnerships and grants.”

The on-going costs could be covered through a support group the way Friends of the Library aid the county’s library branches. “I’ll take any proposal to council,” Goodale said.

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