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Location announced for Charleston dog park

From the Cleveland Daily Banner: Two and a half years after being notified that Charleston would receive a $25,000 grant for a dog park, city

From the Cleveland Daily Banner: Two and a half years after being notified that Charleston would receive a $25,000 grant for a dog park, city commissioners finally made the decision on where to put the park — at its original planned location.


The Charleston Recreation Board applied for a grant from the Boyd Foundation in April 2021, and learned the city was one of five East Tennessee communities receiving the $25,000 grant. Decatur, Sweetwater, Gatlinburg and East Ridge were the other four.


Even when applying for the grant, the thoughts were that the dog park would be located in an area behind the Hiwassee River Heritage Center, with the understanding it would not interfere with the history trail associated with the center.


However, parking at the dog park would not be close by, and fears were voiced as to those bringing their dogs there would utilize the Heritage Center’s parking lot, which only holds fewer than 10 vehicles at a time.


So development of the park was delayed, and eventually, suggestions for new sites that provided better parking and other amenities were developed. Two of those included placing the dog park in the Hoyt Berry Municipal Park, either near the basketball courts or the playground.


The delay in deciding on a site for the dog park led Mayor Donna McDermott to have the Charleston City Commission decide on the location. Tuesday night, at the commission meeting, she announced her decision.


“The dog park location is done,” McDermott said after announcing that the original site was chosen by the commission. That announcement followed a lengthy discussion by commissioners and others in the audience.


“What this really boils down to is time,” said Vice Mayor Frankie McCartney. “All locations come with good and bad.”


He said from speaking with constituents, it was almost split 50-50 on placement of the dog park, and of having a dog park at all.


“The dog park idea really came about because some didn’t want dogs in [Hoyt Berry] park,” McCartney said, adding that placing the dog park there “defeats the separation of park and dogs.”


Others had come up with proposed sites, with Missy Kersey of the recreation board showing how the municipal park could adequately house a dog park, provide needed shade and water, and adequate parking.


Yet, in the end, McDermott said the commission has approved the original site.


No decision was announced on when construction will start on the dog park, but McDermott did state the other four East Tennessee communities have completed their dog parks.


In other commission business related to the recreation board, the board:


• Was allowed two more members following the adoption of a resolution that changes board from five members to seven members, two of which do not have to live within the Charleston city limits. Naming any new board member will be done by the mayor, and McDermott, upon the recreation board’s request, approved naming Isaiah Ballew as the sixth member. A seventh member will be named in the near future.


• Again reminded commissioners and those in attendance of the “Christmas in the Park” set for Saturday, Nov. 25, at the Hoyt Berry Municipal Park, beginning at 2 p.m. The event will feature the Appalachian String Band at 4 p.m., food and craft vendors, a Christmas light contest among several businesses in Charleston, and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus. The lighting of the Christmas tree in the park will be at dusk.