Canine Corner users rally to save park

The Greenville NewsJuly 9, 2014 

An effort has been mounted to save Canine Corner, which faces closure when a new dog park opens at Conestee Park.

BY HEIDI HEILBRUNN — The Greenville News

— A flier to save the dog park appeared not long ago, secured to the gate at Canine Corner with zip ties.

“Volunteers urgently needed,” the flier read. It was a call to arms for dog park users who have since launched a campaign to keep that corner of Cleveland Park open.

The decision to shutter the city of Greenville’s only dog park and open a new facility at Conestee Park was announced in May and came as a surprise to many regulars who said they were unaware of a pending closure.

“We feel like we haven’t been heard,” said Mike O’Connell, a Stone Lake resident who’s spent the last few weekends at Canine Corner telling people about a petition drive to save the dog park.

About 15 people came to an informational meeting at the Hughes Main Library last week to kick off the effort.

Plans are in motion to start a Facebook page and website for the petition the group hopes to present to City Council with several thousand signatures to show “the other side of the coin,” said J.T. Pennington, another dog park regular.

Pennington and other members of the group said they want to know why dog park visitors were not asked for their input.

The issues at the park have been ongoing for years, with the city getting regular complaints from surrounding neighborhoods about congestion, noise and lack of parking, said Dana Souza, parks and recreation director.

There also have been reports of overcrowding from visitors and neighbors alike, Souza said, and of people dropping off their dogs unattended.

With too many constraints on the existing half-acre site, the city looked to build a new place for pups at Conestee Park on Mauldin Road, which the city leases to the county’s recreation department.

The one-acre facility would feature the latest in dog park best practices, such as separate areas for large and small dogs and rounded corners for fencing so dogs don’t get backed into corners, which can lead to fights. Owners also would be able to sit in the shade and play with their dogs in an open wooded area.

Construction is expected to start by the end of the month. Once it opens, Canine Corner will close and revert back to green space.

Scott Powell, president of the Cleveland Forest neighborhood association, said closing the 7-year-old dog park may be the only solution to what began as a Leadership Greenville volunteer project.

“It was built as an experiment, and it was more successful than they ever thought it would be,” Powell said.

While the neighborhood association doesn’t have a position on Canine Corner’s closure — many of his neighbors are frequent visitors — Powell said Cleveland Forest residents have advocated for more passive recreation spaces to throw a football around.

Meanwhile, dog owners will “end up with a really nice park,” Powell said.

To learn more about the petition, email savecaninecorner@yahoo.com.

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