Lewes Unleashed is set to move forward with a dog park organizers say will be spectacular based on its size and location.
Lewes Mayor and City Council on Nov. 19 unanimously approved the park’s initial design concept and also approved building the park on 4.5 acres of a 66-acre parcel the city leases from the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control.
The parcel lies off New Road, along the road to the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment. The city approved the dog park idea in June.
Landscape architect Rodney Robinson said the park’s natural setting would appeal to dogs and humans.
Robinson is providing his services to Lewes Unleashed free of charge.
“Because of the size and nature of the parcel it’s going to be spectacular,” Robinson said, pointing out features on a rendering of his initial design concept.
He said most of the site work would be an evaluation of what’s growing, removal of unwanted plants, then work to nurture desired plant species.
Robinson said the site offers diverse setting and plants: areas with sun, shade, and some places with broad vistas. He said new plantings would be indigenous.
“It’s going to be unique. I haven’t seen any other dog parks like it,” Robinson said.
A stand of young pines is in the middle of the park, and there are adjacent areas of low-growing young plants.
The site would be encircled with chain link fencing. A half-acre area exclusively for small dogs would also be enclosed by chain link fencing.
Organizers say the project is moving forward but there’s still much to do ahead.
“We’re going to need more help to go where we want to go,” said Larry Wiley, Lewes Unleashed board chairman.
Help would be monetary donations needed to transform architectural renderings on paper into real chain link fencing, pathways, water fountains for dogs and humans, benches, clean-up stations and substantial landscaping.
Lewes Unleashed is paying park development and ongoing maintenance costs.
Wiley said the organization has received more than $12,000 in pledges for the project, and is accepting only pledges until it establishes nonprofit status. He said organizers know more money is needed, but it’s too soon to know exactly how much more.
Wiley said the big picture has been presented but plenty of details remain. “We’d like to start big and maybe scale back to something that’s more affordable,” he said.
“What are you going to be doing about keeping it clean?” councilman Fred Beaufait asked.
“What do you mean?” Robinson said.
“Dog poop,” Beaufait answered.
Wiley said Lewes Unleashed is going to ensure park cleanliness. “That’s number one for number two,” he said, sparking laughter.
Mayor Jim Ford said the city and Lewes Unleashed are working on a memorandum of understanding covering details such as how dog waste would be handled.
Beaufait said he doesn’t want city street department employees to handle dog waste.
“As we said, we’re still working out details,” Ford said. For additional information about Lewes Unleashed and the dog park, go to www.lewesunleashed.org.