July 10, 2018

MEMO TO:        Mayor Barber and Board of Commissioners

FROM:             Frank A. Rush, Jr., Town Manager

SUBJECT:       Recommended Dog Park Location – McLean-Spell Park - (Summary & Suggested Motions)

The Board of Commissioners will receive a formal recommendation from the Dog Park Development Committee for the location of a proposed new dog park at the July 10 meeting.  After thoughtful consideration in recent months, the Dog Park Development Committee recommends an approximately 1-acre site in McLean-Spell Park, and the Board is asked to approve this site so additional project planning can occur and fundraising initiatives can proceed in earnest.  Wendy Mgyese, Committee Chair, will formally present the recommendation to the Board, and I will also be available to answer any questions.

As you know, the Dog Park Development Committee was formed earlier this year, and includes 7 Emerald Isle residents tasked with the development of a new dog park to serve our residents and visitors (and their canine family members).  The members of the committee include:

  • Wendy Mgyese, Chair,
  • Ginger Garner, Vice Chair,
  • Judy Graham,
  • Joe Russick,
  • Jen Temple,
  • Gus Wilgus, and
  • Denise Zeigler.

The committee has been meeting monthly since March, and most of the committee’s discussion has involved consideration of potential dog park locations.  Because of the significant cost of land in Emerald Isle, and the need for approximately 1 acre or more of land for the new dog park, the committee has focused its efforts on Town-owned parcels only.  The committee reviewed and discussed the following 5 Town-owned locations over the past three months:

  • Emerald Isle Woods Park (location just north of the main parking area),
  • Senator Jean Preston Memorial Playground (grassy area west and north of play equipment),
  • Corner of NC 58 / Seagull Drive (wooded area west of Town Administration Building),
  • Town Government Complex (area between tennis courts and Police Station), and
  • McLean-Spell Park (area noted on attached aerial photo map).

The committee has researched other dog parks and discussed the desired size of a new dog park in Emerald Isle, and has determined that a 1 acre – 1 ½ acre land area, divided into two sections for large dogs and small dogs, is the ideal size for the new Emerald Isle dog park.  Due to the limited land area available at the Senator Jean Preston Memorial Playground, the NC 58 / Seagull Drive location, and the Town Government Complex (the available area is approximately ½ acre at each of these locations), the configuration and overall location of Emerald Isle Woods Park (away from other Town facilities and not as centrally located in Emerald Isle), the committee narrowed its focus to McLean-Spell Park.  The McLean-Spell Park location offers a central location in Emerald Isle, proximity to the Community Center and the Police Station, nearby parking and restroom facilities, and more flexibility for the design of the new dog park.   

As you know, recorded restrictions for McLean-Spell Park enable the Town to utilize up to 10 acres of the nearly 30-acre property for active recreational facilities, including a dog park.  If the Town allocates approximately 1 acre of this land for a dog park, the Town would have the ability to utilize up to 9 acres for additional desired active recreational facilities in the future. The recorded restrictions for McLean-Spell Park also require any new facilities to be located at least 50 feet from Archers Creek.  The Town’s grant application indicated efforts to locate any new facilities approximately 200 feet from Archers Creek, however, this distance is not a formal requirement. 

The attached aerial photo map indicates the proposed location of the new dog park at McLean-Spell Park.  The area depicted is approximately 275 ft. by 150 ft., and is located approximately 200 ft. north of Archers Creek in line with the Community Center, where a new pedestrian bridge over Archers Creek will be constructed in the coming weeks.  We envision that a sidewalk, asphalt, and/or paver block or brick path will link the Community Center with the pedestrian bridge and the dog park to enable safe and easy access by the public, and also allow handicapped access.  The proposed dog park boundaries are approximately 300 ft. from private properties located on Live Oak Street, approximately 500 ft.+ from private property on Archers Creek Court, and 700 – 800 ft. from private properties on Sound Drive. 

The committee has discussed several design ideas for the new dog park, but has not finalized any specific design features at this time.  The committee does envision that the new dog park will be integrated into the natural topography as much as practical, and that most of the larger trees will remain as part of the new dog park.  We envision the removal of underbrush and some manipulation of natural topography, however, special emphasis will be placed on the preservation of existing natural features where practical.  I would envision a two-step process for the construction of the dog park, with Parks Maintenance staff initially charged with the clearing of underbrush in the dog park location to enable the committee and Town staff to better understand the lay of the land, followed by work by a site contractor to complete any minimal grading and tree removal that may be required. The topography of McLean-Spell Park and the design of the new dog park will insure that no storm water runoff leaves the dog park site and enters the waters of Archers Creek, and park regulations (and likely self-policing by other dog owners) will require that all dog feces be disposed of properly.

If the Board approves of the McLean-Spell Park location for a new dog park, the committee will continue its work to determine desired design features, determine appropriate dog park regulations, and begin fundraising efforts in earnest.  The most significant expenses associated with the construction of the new dog park are likely to be fencing (approximately 900 – 1000 linear feet of fencing will be required), a potable water source, the walkway leading from the Community Center to the dog park, and desired play features within the park.  After the committee gets further along in the design process, a detailed budget will be established based on the desired features.  For planning purposes, we are currently using a “working estimate” of approximately $50,000 - $60,000, with a goal for the Dog Park Development Committee to raise $25,000 - $30,000 and the Town to provide an equal match.  This “working estimate” will be adjusted accordingly depending on the specific design features recommended by the committee in the coming weeks.  The Town’s matching funds are already budgeted for the new dog park, and if the committee’s fundraising efforts are successful, it is conceivable that the new dog park could be constructed this coming spring and open to the public by this time next year. 

The committee has discussed allocating approximately 1 acre for the new dog park initially, with the potential for an additional ½ acre expansion in the future if desired.  To put it in perspective for the Board and the public, 1 acre is approximately equal to the land area occupied by 3 – 4 residential homes in the nearby neighborhoods, and represents a relatively large land area.   If the Board approves of the McLean-Spell Park location for a new dog park, the Town will have the ability to allocate approximately 9 acres for other active recreational facilities in the future, and I would envision any additional facilities being located generally in the center of the McLean-Spell Park property in order to maintain the maximum buffer from adjacent residential properties.  Ideally, any future active recreational facilities would be located approximately 300 feet or more from adjacent residential properties on Live Oak Street, Sound Drive, and Archers Creek Court.

Wendy Mgyese, Committee Chair, and I look forward to discussing this project with the Board at the July 10 meeting.