All News & Blogs
Spotsylvania resident continuing to raise money for a dog park despite lack of support from county
Landry and Meredith Hepler take Ashby for walk near their home. They want to establish a dog park in Spotsylvania.
ROBERT A. MARTIN/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
Visit the Photo Place
BY JEFF BRANSCOME
Landry Hepler is still raising money for a dog park in Spotsylvania despite not having support from the county.
The Spotsylvania Board of Supervisors has removed the dog park from its 2013-17 Capital Improvement Plan. That leaves the project, which had been slated for Patriot Park, without a home.
So Hepler, who has raised $2,340 for the park, said he's hoping to find a private landowner who will donate property for it.
The dog park would be for anyone, not just Spotsylvania residents, he said. It would enable pets to frolic freely in a fenced area while their owners socialize.
"It's kind of like a blessing in disguise," Hepler said of the board's decision. "I think we're gaining more freedom and flexibility."
County staff initially had included a $200,000 dog park--to be funded with private donations--in this fiscal year's proposed capital plan. It would've been built during fiscal 2016-17 on three acres at Patriot Park off Smith Station Road.
Supervisors revise the capital plan annually, and could decide to give the dog park another chance.
Supervisors' Chairwoman Ann Heidig said she was worried having it in the capital projects plan would show an intent by the county to chip in. Heidig said she's not opposed to revisiting the project if supporters collect enough money to cover the park's cost.
"I think the ability to raise the money also shows a level of interest in the county that would be helpful to us in making decisions," she said.
Hepler, who lives with his wife, Meredith, and their pets in a townhouse off Spotsylvania Parkway, had hoped the county would have pitched in.
For now, he's treating the park as a private venture. His dog park committee recently voted to continue soliciting donations.
In fact, he is offering "unleash the savings" cards to anyone who donates at least $20. The cards, which he hopes to print within a month, will provide discounts to various stores until the end of 2013.
"I think a lot of people will see some value," Hepler said. "They're going to get something out of the deal, too."
Spotsylvania Planning Director Wanda Parrish said a nonprofit could develop a dog park in most areas of the county without seeking the approval of the Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.
Such a project would require permits through the Department of Community Development.
Hepler said he's leaning toward forming a nonprofit, calling it the "more easily traveled road."
And although the county estimated the cost of a new dog park at $200,000, Hepler said he thinks he can develop one for $20,000 with some help from the community.
The city of Fredericksburg paid $15,000 to build a 0.75-acre dog park off Kenmore Avenue near the canal path. City dog owners had pressed for a park.
But without the backing of elected officials in Spotsylvania, Hepler is going to need land and a lot more donors.
"I'm confident that it's going to be done," he said. "I just don't know how long it's going to take to get done."spotsydogpark.com
Jeff Branscome: 540/374-5402