County’s first dog park being planned at Dorey Park

Canines of Henrico County soon will have a new place to roam.

Henrico County's first public dog park is scheduled to open in Varina's Dorey Park later this year.

The dog park will be located on about one acre of land near the pond at the park, on the opposite side of a gravel parking lot. Construction is expected to begin this month, with completion anticipated by late September, according to Al Azzarone, parks planning supervisor for the Henrico Division of Recreation and Parks.

"We've been receiving citizen requests [for a dog park] for a number of years," Azzarone said. After Varina District Supervisor Jim Donati received some of those requests himself, he asked county officials to look into the concept of putting a dog park at Dorey. They studied the site and determined the best location for such an area.

The spot they selected is mostly wooded currently but will be partially cleared in the coming weeks to allow for the construction of the dog park. Officials hope to keep several larger trees in place. A footbridge will be constructed over a ditch to connect the park to the parking lot.

“I’ve had a number of calls and requests from people for something like this, “ Donati said, “especially from those who live in dense neighborhoods or townhomes. They really don’t have anywhere for their dogs to run safely.”

The dog park will include two separate areas – one for large dogs and one for small dogs – and double-gated entrances to each side, to allow dogs to enter and be unleashed in a holding area prior to entering the park.

There also will be sufficient space around the perimeter of the park for visitors to walk their dogs as well, if they choose not to enter the fenced-in portion.

The facility will be enclosed by 6-foot tall black vinyl fencing, Azzarone said, and will include a number of features. Among them:

• water dispensers on each side for dogs;

• play equipment for dogs;

• bag dispensers and trash cans to collect and dispose of dog waste;

• seating areas for visitors.

Officials also are considering a way to construct a shallow water pit that dogs could wade in during warm months, Azzarone said.

The project will cost about $155,000 in total; it required that water lines be extended from the restrooms at the park across the main road to the new site, Azzarone said.

Because the addition of the park falls within the purview of the Dorey Park master plan, no official action by the Planning Commission or Board of Supervisors is necessary to permit its construction.

However the Board of Supervisors will consider an ordinance amendment at its Aug. 9 meeting that would allow dogs to be off leash in the dog park – a necessary step before the park can open.

Requests for dog parks have come from other parts of the county as well, Azzarone said, and it is possible that additional parks could be considered elsewhere in the future.
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