Terriers and hounds soon may displace groundhogs and squirrels from a block of long-empty land in Midtown, as plans are afoot for Harrisburg’s first public dog park.
The community group Friends of Midtown is raising about $18,000 to cover two years of expenses for the off-leash park, which would be created on a grassy, three-quarter-acre expanse at N. 7th and Granite streets.
“We have the enthusiastic support of the city, the planning bureau,” said Annie Hughes, who is spearheading the effort for Friends of Midtown with her husband Andy. “Everybody’s all in, essentially.”
Recently, a small group of dog-lovers toured the lot, a former industrial area now devoid of most structures. According to Hughes, it would make a great dog park, as it’s large, empty and distant enough from most occupied buildings, yet still walkable from much of Midtown and Uptown.
The Vartan Group owns the lot and has agreed to a two-year commitment, Hughes said. Friends of Midtown should hear soon on the fate of a grant application from PPL Electric and also is soliciting funds from individuals. It hopes to have the park, which would be free and open to the public, ready by spring 2018.
Plans call for a fence to ring the lot, which would be divided into two areas—one for large dogs and the other for small dogs. Dog waste bags would be available on site, and signs would be posted with the rules of the park.
Midtown resident Ginger Coleman said that she and her dog, a 3-year-old boxer rescue named Apollo, can’t wait for the park to become a reality.
“He’s very, very active,” she said. “He needs this so he can release all his energy.”
The desire for a dog park in Harrisburg has come up repeatedly in recent years. Two years ago, it was the fifth most-popular suggestion among 1,200 ideas for inclusion in the city’s comprehensive plan, Hughes said.
She added that the dog park would be temporary, serving as a pilot for the city, which may use data collected from this effort to build a permanent park.
Ultimately, a dog park should be considered part of the city’s economic development strategy, she said, offering a key amenity and improved quality of life for residents and their pets.
“A dog park is something Harrisburg really needs,” she said. “The goal is to provide more for existing residents and attract new residents.”
If you would like to contribute, please visit the Friends of Midtown website or mail a check, indicating “dog park” in the memo line, to Friends of Midtown, P.O. Box 5291, Harrisburg, Pa., 17110.
Author: Lawrance Binda