- Associated Press - Saturday, May 31, 2014

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - By the Fourth of July, canines in the Martinsburg area could be celebrating a little independence of their own in the city’s first public dog park.

At least that’s the hope of R. Stephen Catlett, executive director of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Parks & Recreation Board.

A number of dog owners already have been using the newly fenced-off areas for small and large dogs in Ambrose Park, but it isn’t ready, and will be chained and locked to prevent further use, Catlett said.

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When opened, canine handlers will be required to use a keychain card-swipe system to securely use the Wurzburg Dog Park, but how much it will cost still is being determined, he said. The cost will be set at an amount that covers the system’s expense, Catlett said.

“This security thing is the only thing that’s puzzling me,” Catlett said of the technical challenges involved with installing and operating the system.

As designed, a swipe card will trigger a magnetic release of the gate to allow entry into the park, Catlett said.

The access system was requested by the dog park’s primary benefactors, and Catlett said he believes it will spur users to take ownership of the canine recreation area and police it themselves.

Travis and Scarlett Hill have contributed $150,000 for the dog park on behalf of their family through the Eastern West Virginia Community Foundation. The park’s name recognizes Travis Hill’s aunt, Gretchen Wurzburg, who left $500,000 in her will for student scholarships, public recreation and churches.

Catlett told board members that they received a $2,500 donation from Gerald and Sandra Kremer toward the purchase of one of four water fountains for the dog park, and also hope to net more private contributions.

Catlett estimated the cost of the dog park and several other improvements at Ambrose Park, including a new main pavilion, new children’s playground equipment, restroom renovations, additional parking and sidewalks, and extension of water and electricity services, is expected to be more than $400,000. The dog park’s total cost is expected to be more than $200,000.

Work left to be done to make the dog park operational includes the installation of the water fountains, swipe-card system and agility equipment for the dogs, Catlett said.

Workers also have been installing fencing near the children’s playground equipment, and laying pavers for the dog park’s entrance and a walkway that is to connect the park’s new west-end parking area on Wall Street to an existing parking area at the end of Linden Lane.

The new walkway will provide a safer alternative for people who walk to Martinsburg Mall by using the Mall Drive sidewalk, which Catlett said is too narrow and dangerous.

Plans for a children’s garden next to the park’s new playground equipment are moving forward, Catlett said. He hopes to start renting the park’s new main pavilion by mid-June.

Catlett said the addition of electric and water utilities at the park should make the pavilion and other amenities more attractive to the community.

“It’s going to be a hot spot,” Catlett said.


Information from: The Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Md., https://www.herald-mail.com

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