While it's currently just a dusty, empty lot, the City of Milford's Parks and Recreation Department has plans for the fenced-in area located on the Riverwalk between Fisher Avenue and Marshall Street.
This fall, the 50,000 square-foot parcel, previously used to house school buses, will be converted into a dog park for residents' canine companions to stretch their legs and socialize.
Steps need to be taken to prepare the lot including preliminary site evaluation, fence repairs, laying grass seed, adding a dividing fence to separate small and large breeds, posting signage for pet owner liability, adding waste disposal stations, benches for pet owners and hopefully an ornamental, yet useful, fire hydrant.
City Manager Richard Carmean said the department is already off to a good start despite a limited budget. The area is already fenced in and has access to water, two major project expenses.
"There have been a lot of requests over the years to have [a dog park]," Carmean said. "It's a nice blend with the Riverwalk. People could park anywhere, walk down with a leash, get to the gate and turn the dog loose to have a little run around."
Milford Animal Hospital Office Manager Nancy Mullins of Houston raised some concerns about the safety of a free-range dog park.
"I've got mixed emotions," she said. "If you've got good pet owners, it's a good idea. Unfortunately there are some people who are just not in touch with their dog's aggression. It's good to have access to an area to run free, as long as everyone is aware of their pet."
Dogs fighting was not her only concern. "People that go need to make sure that their pets are vaccinated and have some kind of flea control. They should also have a dog license to avoid any fines."
"For the most part the owners that participate in a dog park are educated, caring, responsible dog owners that will have their dogs vaccinated," said Milford resident Sherry Shaffer. Shaffer, a dog-owner, is also the owner of Fur-Baby Boutique, a business that plans on having an active role in the park once it is established.
"[A dog park] is a great way for owners and animal lovers to meet, to find breeds that get along and talk about the different breeds," Shaffer said. "It's a lot of fun for any animal lover, whether they own a dog or not."