By DONALD WITTKOWSKI
During the quiet offseason months, Sea Isle City lifts its ban of dogs on the beaches, giving canines and their owners a chance to get out and stretch their legs on the wide-open shoreline.
But come summer, the vacationers take over the beaches and dogs lose their sandy playground. Without a place to call their own, dogs and their owners usually are out walking along the streets and sidewalks in the summer for exercise.
Knowing that many families choose their vacation destination based on its pet-friendly reputation, Sea Isle is looking for a place to build its first dog park as a way to keep both the canines and their owners happy.
City officials have been in discussions with a landscaping company for some conceptual ideas as it begins the planning process for the dog park, Sea Isle spokeswoman Katherine Custer said.
“We do appreciate that Sea Isle City is home to many dogs and is a place where visitors bring their pets,” she said in an interview Thursday.
At the same time, Custer stressed that Sea Isle is still “very early in the planning phase” for the dog park. No contracts have been signed yet for the project. Moreover, the city is still not sure where it will build the dog park.
As of now, it appears that construction would not begin on the project until next fall at the earliest, Custer noted.
“We hope later in the year to begin construction, if possible,” she said.
Mayor Leonard Desiderio, who has wanted to get a dog park built for years, said in an earlier interview that he would like to have the project ready in 2020. He described two possible locations.
The city will look into the possibility of locating the dog park in the north end of town, between Fifth and Eighth Streets on Landis Avenue, the mayor said. Two new parking lots were built in the same area over the summer as part of a restriping plan to make the Landis Avenue corridor safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.
“At this point, I would say that the north end is the front-runner,” Custer said of the dog park’s possible location.
One other possible site for a dog park currently serves as a parking lot on 42nd Place across from the city’s municipal marina, Desiderio said. It is known as the “clam shell parking lot” because it is covered with crushed white clam shells.
The parking lot’s location directly across from the bayfront marina makes it an attractive site. The property sits at the base of the John F. Kennedy Boulevard bridge, the main entryway into town.
Sea Isle’s new five-year capital plan adopted by City Council proposes spending $200,000 in 2020 for a dog park. Council would need to follow up by approving a funding ordinance to actually finance the project.
Custer indicated that the dog park will be a facility that would please both the canines and their owners.
“We would make it state-of-the-art,” she said.