A Columbia County park is going to the dogs.
Several area parks are available for the recreational enjoyment of residents. But county officials are now planning to convert a 1.5-acre fenced area at Riverside Park into a dog park.
"Recreation gets calls all the time. I've gotten calls about 'Where's there a dog park in Columbia County?' " said Barry Smith, county Community and Leisure Services director. "This is something we saw (a need for) and that would be a good spot for it."
The 60-acre park on Hardy-McManus Road in Evans already includes eight ball fields, three tennis courts and a boat dock into Betty's Branch.
The fenced field, once used as a place to put dredged material from the river, is tucked behind the tennis courts and ball fields.
"I think it is great. A really good idea," said Donna Evans, president of the Columbia County Humane Society. "They (the county) don't have anything, and anything they could do I think would be great.
"People who live in apartments don't have anywhere to take their dogs."
Smith said he and Recreation Department Manager Charlie Beale are meeting this week to work out some details for the dog park.
They are currently obtaining cost estimates for additional fencing, gates and water troughs for the dogs.
Smith said they plan to divide the area to provide separate areas for large and small dogs.
Smith estimates that renovating the property will cost about $7,000.
"It'll give people a place to take their dogs, take them off their leash and let them play with other dogs," he said. "We might have it finished by June or July."
Evans said creating the park is a good use of the property and hopes to learn from the process as the Humane Society has plans to build its own dog park at Dogwood Park Spay/Neuter Clinic on Columbia Road in Appling.
"Columbia County, with the way the population is growing, needs one in each side of the county," Evans said.
Smith said he is asking for pictures, and rules and regulations, from other cities that operate dog parks to assist with the design and creation of park policies.
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