Fido could run free at south Raleigh park

But some neighbors aren't happy; they expect noise and freeloaders

Staff WriterMarch 22, 2007 

— The city's south-side pooches will soon romp leash-free through a patch of woods off Lake Wheeler Road if Raleigh's third dog park gets a bark of approval.

With a nod from the City Council, the newest in a string of popular hound-dog playgrounds could open at Carolina Pines Park as early as this summer, the first on Raleigh's southern end.

Some neighbors, though, worry about the consequences of giving dogs the freedom of a fenced-in forest. Noise, for one.

"It's not that I have anything against dogs," said Charlene Terry, who lives a tossed-stick's distance from the proposed spot. "I just like peace."

"The taxpayer in me says we're building this park as much for the people outside Raleigh as the people inside it," said Mary Belle Pate, head of the Southwest Citizens Advisory Council.

She is pushing for a card-swipe entry system that could charge nonresidents a fee and guarantees that all visiting dogs have their shots.

"I just have concerns about inappropriate dogs who are not vaccinated," Pate said.

The site has been chosen by the Parks, Recreation and Greenway board, but the dog park has not been approved by the City Council.

Carolina Pines makes sense because the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has its office nearby, and much of the southwest Raleigh community backs the spot, said Gail Till, chairwoman of the Parks, Recreation and Greenway Advisory Board.

The board prefers a grass-roots volunteer approach, not a card-entry system that charges people, she said.

"That's the Cary model," Till said. Cary's dog park charges residents $40 a year per dog, and nonresidents $80. "The Raleigh model is different, with people looking out and making sure everybody is behaving."

There is at least some support for monitoring on the council, though.

"It's just good common sense on our part," said council member Thomas Crowder, who represents the southwest. "Otherwise you don't have a way to make sure everybody's healthy and up to date."

A new dog park at Carolina Pines would help spread the popular feature around Raleigh.

The first park opened on Spring Forest Road in North Raleigh in 2003, and a second started near Oakwood, just east of downtown, last year.

Demand for space for dogs to run free has been strong enough that the city put aside $44,000 last year to start a fourth, said David Shouse, park planner.

Opening a leash-free zone in the southern part of the city has been trickier, though. A site near Lake Johnson is on hold over concern that it would interrupt goings-on at Athens Drive High School.

The Carolina Pines park would offer dogs about an acre and a half in thick woods just past the baseball fields, which would need to be cleared of brush and possibly poison ivy.

Terry, one of the nearest neighbors, said she wishes the buffer were thicker.

"Why can't they put it over there?" she asked, motioning past the ball fields. "Why put it right here where people live?"

Staff writer Josh Shaffer can be reached at 829-4818 or jshaffer@newsobserver.com.

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