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For the past several weeks, Dr. Linda Lastinger has been hard at work with a new project that she hopes will offer a common meeting area for people to relax and socialize in Galax along with their four-legged family members.
Her idea, as presented at Galax City Council’s May 28 meeting, is to construct a new dog park in the city.
“The idea behind the park is that, if you have a place where dogs can be together and get to know each other, they will be more socialized. Also, people like to be around other people who have dogs, so it becomes another social outlet,” Lastinger told the council.
She also shared her idea to name the park after Dr. Vaughn Arey, a local physician who died last year.
“What we are interested in is partnering with the city and developing a budget and committee to put these ideas together and see if we can get it working,” Lastinger said.
According to City Manager Keith Barker, the idea for a dog park had been discussed with council before, but no specific place had ever been identified.
Earlier that month, Lastinger and Barker had met with Council Member Bill Webb at an area off of Glendale Road, across from the Municipal Golf Course. The location next to Mill Creek has a large open area surrounded by the remains of a former incinerator plant next to National Textiles.
“We could use the property to its advantage. Right now it’s not being utilized,” Lastinger said. She explained that the plan was to use a half acre of the property. “We thought we could develop a plan to fence the area, and provide water access.”
After doing some research, Lastinger averaged the overall costs to fence the area at $6,000, not including installation. Signage would take another $1,000.
Barker explained that money for fencing, signage and other needed items would be raised through donations. After construction, costs for long-term care such as mowing and other maintenance would need to be discussed.
He also noted that, because the sustainability of the site is questionable, the city would like to contact other localities with dog parks to see how they are operated. “I contacted Roanoke, which has the closest dog park, and their cost was $30,000, including fencing, benches, decorations, water stations... and their park is split in two areas: a half-acre for small dogs, and the other half for big dogs.”
No further plans had been made at the time of the meeting, but Lastinger noted that she would like to get in touch with the Twin County Humane Society and the Galax Parks & Recreation Department to see if they would be interested in supporting the project.
“I think that [the park] is a good idea,” said Mayor C.M. Mitchell following Lastinger’s address. He added that the project will need some fleshing out, complete with an appointed committee.
Barker agreed, and told council members that the city wants to mow the site and check on some of the wetter areas to see if the grounds are suitable.
“I talked to [parks director] David Nelson, and he has looked at this site for a dog park recently,” Barker said. “We would like to gather a group and bring everybody together in two or three weeks when the site is mowed, and see if it’s adequate.”
“Will the area allow parking?” asked Council Member Margo Crouse.
The spot is more than an acre, Barker replied, so it should be simple enough to create spaces for parking.
Mitchell called for a motion to take the request under advisement as more information is gathered for the project.
“I move that we explore the concept, as I think it would be a good deal for the city of Galax,” said Webb. Council Member Sharon Plichta seconded the motion and a unanimous vote approved the project for future discussions.
In other action, council:
• set the date for adopting the fiscal year 2014 budget for the June meeting
• approved a request from the Twin County Airport Commission to help fund a third of the cost of installing a portion of a new sewer line at the airport.
Costs are estimated at $12,000, with a $4000 request from each locality.
“Funding provided to the airport for this fiscal year is at $51,649 from the budgeted amount of $53,000, so we would be over budget by $2,649. Funding could be provided from the City Manager Other Funding Category to make up the difference if council wishes to consider the request at this time,” Barker said.
• considered several recommendations from the Traffic Safety Committee, including recommendations to lower the speed limit along East Stuart Drive to 35 miles per hour from the eastern limits to Fries Road and Lafayette Street, having a 45 mile per hour limit from Fries Road and Lafayette Street to the western city limits, providing consistency on both sides of the road and making West Stuart Drive a 25 mile per hour zone for its entire length.
• re-appointed Bill Davis to the Southwest Regional Enterprise Center.