Dog Park Site Is Selected

WHEELING – Following a months-long search for a suitable location, officials have agreed to use city property to build Wheeling’s first dog park.

The park will be built at the city’s Tunnel Green Recreation Complex, on a two-acre site south of the existing baseball field, basketball court and roller hockey rink, according to Jeremy Morris, co-founder of the Wheeling Dog Park Association. Organizers are eyeing a completion date in the spring or summer of 2015, he said.

The announcement comes, rather appropriately, on the heels of National Dog Day, which was Tuesday.

The preferred location for the park had been a strip of land near the Interstate 470 J.B. Chambers Youth Sports Complex, but efforts to acquire the property proved unsuccessful.

“It has been a long process in locating a suitable site for the park, but we are thrilled with the location and the acreage available at Tunnel Green,” Morris said.

The park will include two separate areas, one for dogs up to 30 pounds and another for larger dogs, as well as access to water, waste receptacles and seating. There will be vehicular access to the site from 18th Street, and easy access for pedestrians from Wheeling Heritage Trail.

The effort to build a dog park in Wheeling has been building momentum for more than a year, receiving its biggest boost last summer when Wheeling won $25,000 as a runner-up in PetSafe’s “Bark for Your Park” online voting contest, which offers cities around the country the opportunity to win up to $100,000 each year to build their very own puppy playground.

Morris previously estimated the total cost to construct a dog park at around $50,000. He said a local engineer has offered to donate time to design the park, and a final cost has yet to be determined.

The Wheeling Dog Park Association has done some limited fundraising in addition to the $25,000 contest prize, and city officials appear serious about getting the project done.

“The city is excited about the future dog park, and we are committed to providing city resources to support the design, construction and maintenance of the park,” City Manager Robert Herron said.

Wheeling has until the summer of 2016 to use the prize money from PetSafe, per contest rules. Additional fundraising will be necessary, and Morris said announcements regarding opportunities to donate and volunteer will be coming soon.