The City of South Miami opened their first dog park on February 21. It is designed to provide a place for dogs to get exercise and to “meet and play” with some new friends.
The visionary behind the movement for a dog park was Vice Mayor Walter Harris who first started to explore the idea in 2013. A self-avowed dog-lover, he successfully secured funding for the construction and equipping of the park in the city budget at a minimum of $25,000, which was subsequently raised to $50,000. However, the total construction cost of the 5,000 sq. feet dog park, including signage was completed under the original $25,000 budget, thanks to donations of and for equipment, labor and services.
A search was on to find a suitable site and one was finally suggested by Commissioner Welsh on the Right-of-Way (ROW) located at SW 63 Court and SW 78 Street.
City Manager, Steven Alexander determined that the vacated ROW along SW 63 Court was a viable option. In November 2014, the city successfully negotiated with the Elks Club to lease, free-of-charge, a small strip of their property for inclusion in park.
Commissioner Welsh volunteered to build and install the wooden fence that encloses the park and he has put in a lot of “sweat-equity” with the development of the site. The city has added sod, a 10’ x 10’ chickee hut, water fountain, dog exercise toy equipment, clean-up station, and two benches for the use of dog-owners donated by Martin Outdoor.
According to a published release by the city: “The work was reviewed and approved in writing prior to start, during construction and after completion by the City Planning and Zoning for compliance with the City of South Miami Land Development Code and the same by the City Building Department for compliance with the Florida Building Code.”
While this dog park will certainly add value to the South Miami community, it strikes me that it can only be truly enjoyable if well-trained and well-behaved humans utilize the site. This is an “off-leash” park, large dogs and small dogs will not be separated from each other, the park has no attendant (but is scheduled for maintenance twice a week), and dogs must have current tags from Animal Services demonstrating that they have had all their requisite inoculations. Patrons of the park are reminded by signage that dogs must where their tags: “No tag. No play.”
The dog park is free-of-charge, open from sunrise to sunset seven days a week, and is not restricted to the residents of South Miami.
Quentin Pough, Parks and Recreation Director said, “Dog owners now have a park in the city to spend quality time with their pets.”
When asked for a quote about the new park, Vice Mayor Harris wrote: “To paraphrase the Supreme Court, “dogs are people too.”