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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Downtown Cincinnati breaking land for a new dog park

By Carrie Whitaker • cwhitaker@enquirer.com • March 5, 2010
With the boost of a $50,000 grant from Procter & Gamble Pet Care division, the Downtown Residents' Council can break ground in the coming months on a half-acre fenced-in dog area on Eggleston Avenue, a piece of greenspace that stretches below Gilbert Avenue and Interstate 71.

"Downtown dog owners have wanted a place to take their dogs for a long time," said residents' council board member Chris Wiedeman, who lives on Fourth Street with his wife and their 7-year-old wired terrier, Metro. "When Fountain Square reopened, but didn't allow dogs, we began talking to the city about finding a spot."
The council, founded in 1985 to promote the city's central business district, has been planning the off-the-leash dog area for the last year and a half, Wiedeman said. Working with a $75,000 budget, the grant from P&G gets the council near its goal, Wiedeman said.
"P&G Pet Care exists to enhance the health and well being of dogs and cats," said P&G external relations coordinator Julie Franklin. "Anything we can do to strengthen the relationship between the pet owner and his or her pet we are happy to support."
Most of the land is owned by the Ohio Department of Transportation, with a small slice owned by the city, said Michael Moore, City of Cincinnati's interim director of transportation and engineering, He has helped the council get a permit through ODOT for the project.
"It's always great when we can get those types of amenities and make Downtown a place that's conducive with living and working," Moore said.
The plan is considered a beautification project for the city, Moore said, and will not be considered a city park.
Fundraising efforts for the project in the past year included a popular event called Balls Around the Block, organized by Sixth Street resident Craig Beachler in February. The event - a Downtown bar crawl attended by about 230 people - raised roughly $6,400.
Add that to $2,400 in individual donations and the council is roughly $16,200 from its goal. Donations can be made to the Downtown Dog Recreation Area Fund by contacting the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
The $75,000 budget will pay to grade the site, put down crushed limestone (which is not toxic and limits odors) over much of the area, plant some trees and put up fences, including a solid screen fence blocking the view of the highway from the dog area, Wiedeman said.
"We hope it will be maintained by some committed users - I'll be one of them," Wiedeman said.
Among those excited about the dog area is Mic Foster. He owns the Pet Athletic Club, a kennel/dog day-care facility and training school just around the corner from the project on Reedy Street and said many of his customers have expressed the desire for something like this.
"Part of the reason people live Downtown is so they can walk as much as possible," Foster said. "It's sort of frustrating that you have to get in the car and drive somewhere just to exercise your pet."

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