Off-leash dog park may formally open mid-July

By Tom Corrigan - [email protected]

Ward 1 Portsmouth City Councilman Sean Dunne said officially the city’s first, and, so far only, off leash dog park is not quite open for business.

Nevertheless, Dunne added there is little doubt some people are using the park. He said he is particularly gratified by comments coming from out-of-state visitors staying at the Holiday Inn near the park. All those comments have been very positive, Dunne continued.

Dunne said planners are aiming for July 17 as the date Spock Memorial Dog Park formally opens for business. Situated in the 700 block of Second Street near the Portsmouth Police Department headquarters, the park recently underwent landscaping with work donated by volunteers organized by Main Street Portsmouth, which also donated the plants used.

Main Street Portsmouth is the local chapter of a national civic organization promoting downtown beautification and revitalization. The local organization regularly involves itself in providing landscaping in downtown Portsmouth.

“We are relying on other people’s schedules,” Dunne added regarding the opening of the park, joking he probably jinxed the July 17 day just by mentioning it. Main Street Portsmouth is in charge of the formal ribbon-cutting ceremony, according to Dunne, adding they are awaiting the arrival of split-level water fountains designed for use by human and canine alike.

A previous Daily Times report stated those water fountains already were in place last month. Apparently, water lines were laid for the fountains but the fountains themselves are still missing in action.

The park is named after a Scioto County K-9 officer killed in the line of duty in 1994. Dunne previously said when the decision was made to place the park near the city police station, naming it after a four-legged officer who made the ultimate sacrifice only seemed appropriate. Speaking more recently, Dunne said Main Street Portsmouth hopes to bring in a former county sheriff – presumably someone with some link to Spock – to cut the ribbon at the park’s opening ceremony.

Main Street Portsmouth did not return a voicemail requesting comment late Tuesday.

A $43,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and an additional $8,000 grant from the Scioto Foundation paid for Spock Memorial Park. Park construction was a promise Dunne made when he first ran for city council in 2017. But in talking about the park, Dunne always has been eager to share credit especially with Portsmouth Community Development Director Tracy Shearer, who was unavailable for comment for this story.

Dunne also openly hands credit to Ben Davis of Portsmouth’s Alarm Tech Services. Local design firm owner Gina Chabot came up with the general design for the Portsmouth Park.

Under Chabot’s scheme, the park will essentially be split in two. One side will be for larger dogs 35 pounds and up, while the other side obviously will cater to smaller animals. Davis previously said he got involved with trying to bring a dog park to Portsmouth approximately eight or nine years ago.

“Everyone seemed to have an interest in it from the start,” he said. “But how do you make it happen?”

Davis never said so, but the ultimate answer seems clearly to have included the involvement of Dunne and Shearer. Again, speaking previously, Davis talked about the park being monitored 24/7 via closed-circuit TV. That security presumably is still part of the overall plan.

By Tom Corrigan

[email protected]

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.

Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.