“Pet ownership has really just at an all-time high in Philadelphia,” said Patty-Pat Kozlowski at the meeting, “especially in Center City and urban area neighborhoods like ours.”
Mia Hylan, district constituent outreach specialist to state Rep. John Taylor, and Patty-Pat Kozlowski, former director of park stewardship for Philadelphia’s Parks and Recreation department and current candidate for Taylor’s seat in Pennsylvania’s 177th representative district, took to the Holy Redeemer Cemetery last Monday night to discuss plans for a potential dog park in Bridesburg.
“Pet ownership is really just at an all-time high in Philadelphia,” said Kozlowski at the meeting, “especially in Center City and urban area neighborhoods like ours.”
Hylan said there were essentially two routes the potential dog park could take. The first would be to find a privately owned parcel of vacant land to build the dog park. The second would be to find land the city owns. In the event neighbors choose to build the dog park on city land, the dog park would be subjected to various regulations the state started requiring, she said, of dog parks passed last year.
The regulations, according to Hylan, include the installation of fencing around the perimeter of the park, “a certain type of artificial turf,” lighting, water service, trash receptacles, seating and signage.
“About five years ago,” Kozlowski said, “you could have just thrown down mulch and put a fence around it and called it a dog park.”
Kozlowski said residents interested in a Bridesburg dog park should check out three dog parks in Center City/South Philly, each of which are a different type of dog park, to help them decide which type of dog park they would like in their neighborhood.
The first and least best example of a dog park is Mario Lanza Dog Park, which is located at 2nd and Catherine Street. Kozlowski called Mario Lanza Dog park “bare bones,” largely because of people in the area moving away.
“You’ll see what happens when people say ‘yes, yes, yes I’m going to take care of it’ and then people move and then they don’t,” she said.
Then there’s the Schuylkill River Trail’s Dog Park, which is located along the Schuylkill River. Kozlowski called it “the Cadillac of dog parks.”
According to Kozlowski, the Schuylkill River Trail’s dog park has running water, a porous ground that absorbs the water, gates and lights.
Lastly, there’s the Seger Dog Park, which is located on the grounds of Seger Recreation Center at 11th and Lombard. Seger Dog Park is a happy medium between high quality dog parks like the Schuylkill River Trail’s and lesser dog parks like Mario Lanza.
Kozlowski said the first course of action should be to figure out who in the neighborhood would be willing to volunteer with the dog park and serve on a committee.
A location for the dog park has yet to be determined, but there are several possibilities. The first would be to find vacant land. Residents can see a map of all vacant land in Philadelphia by going to openmaps.phila.gov and checking the box that says “vacant land indicators.”
A few vacant land areas that seem particularly conducive to a dog park include 2925 Hedley St., 2500 Ash St., 2710 Lefevre St. (this one is fenced in already), 4774 Garden St. and 4241 Richmond St.
Another possibility, mentioned by Kozlowski, would be to turn the tennis courts at the Bridesburg Recreation Center into the dog park. This would be particularly advantageous because the tennis courts are already fenced in. Kozlowski also called these tennis courts “under-utilized.”
One last potential spot mentioned was the abandoned park near the now-closed Rohm and Haas plant near the river. Kozlowski said the company had built a park for its employees, but had since been abandoned. The area is already fenced in.
“Unless it’s radioactive, why can’t that be a dog park?” she said. “It’s off the beaten track, there’s plenty of room and it’s right next to the Boys and Girls Club.”
Kozlowski said insurance would be needed if a dog park was opened. However, the insurance would be relatively inexpensive and would not have to cover things like dog attacks, which would be the responsibility of the dog’s owner, not the property’s owner.
Residents can follow up with updates regarding the dog park by visiting the Bridesburg Dog Park Facebook page.