Last Friday, one week before its official grand opening, Ward 1 Portsmouth City Councilman Sean Dunne said on Thursday evening he saw some 15 dogs in Spock Memorial Dog Park.
“There were people there from Lucasville, all kinds of people from out of town really,” Dunne said.
He added he drives by the park he had a big hand in creating at 702 Second St., (right across the road from the Portsmouth police headquarters) on an almost daily basis. Previous to the arrival of the park, the spot essentially was an empty green space filled only with what Dunne called a dilapidated park bench.
“There’s just a different vibe there now,” Dunne continued. “All types of people have dogs, so it attracts all types of people.”
Having donated the materials and organized the volunteer planting of landscaping around the dog park, the civic group Main Street Portsmouth hosts a grand opening for Spock Memorial Park, 6-7 p.m., Friday at the park.
Officials delayed the grand opening a couple of times due to construction issues, but those resolved themselves a few weeks ago, the park is complete and Dunne expressed confidence this Friday’s event will happen.
The city’s first and only off leash dog park is named for a Pike County K-9 officer killed in the line of duty in 1994. Dunne previously said once the decision was made to locate the park next to the city police station, naming it to honor a fallen officer made lots of sense. Spock’s former handler, retired Pike County Sheriff’s Deputy Al Lewis will be on hand for the grand opening.
Other persons scheduled to make appearances in addition to Dunne and Lewis include Portsmouth Community Development Director Tracy Shearer, who Dunne said had a lot to do with making the dog park a reality.
Shearer did not return voicemail requests for comment.
Local design engineer Nathan Prosch also is slated to visit the grand opening of the park he designed.
Due to some miscommunication, the Daily Times previously gave credit for the park’s design to Portsmouth design firm owner Gina Chabot. She apparently involved herself in designing a park (interestingly, shaped like a dog bone) originally slated to find a home near the Portsmouth flood wall. That plan never materialized. Using Prosch’s design, Dunne and others, to include Shearer and local businessman Ben Davis, came up with Spock Memorial Park.
Essentially, the park is split in two. One side is for larger dogs 30 pounds and up, while the other side obviously caters to smaller animals. The park includes benches and water fountains with spigots designed for use by two- and four-legged visitors. There also are stations for depositing K-9 … deposits.
Dunne said one whimsical feature of the grand opening will include a visit from a local singing telegraph company. Believe it or not, he hopes for lots of pictures of four-legged visitors posing with an oversized cupcake. Spock T-shirts made by a local company also will be available.
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. 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?”
Dunne does not seem finished with the immediate area around Spock Park just yet. He talked about utilizing space beneath, or adjacent, to the nearby Grant Bridge as a spot for food trucks. That plan is very much still just a plan, Dunne added.
Reach Tom Corrigan at (740) 370- 0715. © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved.