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Dog owners rejoice over park drainage project

fr dogparkWhile the Waynesville dog park’s temporary closure this week might have canines a little bit antsy, dog owners are rejoicing over the reason — a drainage project expected to spell an end to the post-rain sludge that’s been a reality for the well-used park.

“It’s definitely a huge relief that they’re taking care of it because the dog park is a vital community asset that needs to be maintained and well cared for,” said Mary Roderick, who can often be seen throwing balls for her Chesapeake Bay retriever Ziggy or supervising wrestling matches featuring her Australian shepherd Scarlet. 

Waynesville Parks and Recreation expects to complete the project for somewhere under $2,000, said Rhett Langston, director for the department. They’re installing what’s called a French drain, a pipe with holes to allow water in along its downhill route to the creek and set in a bed of stones to further improve drainage. Parks and Rec is also installing additional signage, pointing the way to the dog park from both the skate park parking lot and the picnic area lot on Marshall Street. 

The work began on Monday, March 28, and is expected to be complete by Wednesday, March 30. 

“It should be a lot more user-friendly after a hard rain rather than having to stay away from it for a while,” Langston said. 

The dog park is constructed using a “flat V,” which basically means that the land is slightly sloped toward a ditch in the middle of the park that’s intended to run down to the nearby creek. But Langston had gotten complaints from dog park users who were unhappy about the standing water that lurked in the dog park following a good rain, with the town’s Recreation and Parks Advisory Commission opting to monitor the situation for a month and then decide what should be done about it. 

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“Hopefully this will be very good for the park and remove all the standing water after it rains and it will be nicer for everybody,” Langston said. 

The dog park regulars are hoping that’s the case. And not just because of the rain-related muddiness in the center of the park. Since October, there’s been another, more noticeable drainage issue in the mix — a giant hole that had become something of a permanent water feature within the fenced-in area. Scuttlebutt around the dog park is that it started with a rut made by a town maintenance truck and developed into something more as the dogs dug it out. Since the hole’s development, dog park sessions have been punctuated by cries of, “No, Ziggy!” or “Don’t drink that, Shark!” as dog owners attempted to keep their furry sidekicks away from the increasingly dirty water. 

“It wasn’t just mud,” Roderick said. “It was kind of algal and scary.” 

With the freeze-thaw of winter, the hole wasn’t much besides a nuisance, a sure-fire way for water-loving dogs to earn themselves a post-dog-park bath. But as warmer weather set in, the water began to turn a sinister shade of green, with some dog owners swearing that the nasty water contained therein had gotten their dogs sick. 

“I had been up with him a few nights with the squirts from drinking that stuff,” said Gary Hummer, whose greyhound Shark is well known as the fleetest beast at the dog park. The episode had cost him about $180 in vet bills, Hummer added. 

Ziggy the Chessie also had about two weeks of diarrhea, Roderick said, but that could be from the dog park or from a stay in a kennel — hard to tell for sure. 

Town workers busted the borders of the pond and got it all drained out earlier this month, and dog park users are excited to see that a more permanent solution to the park’s other drainage issues is in the works. 

“At least they’re trying, and I think that’s good,” said Bruce Cramond as he left the park’s parking lot with his English springer spaniel Hank in tow. 

“I’m thrilled, because it is such a mess,” Roderick agreed. “Even though I have a huge yard, I really like to come to the dog park for the socialization for the dogs — and for me.”

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