After a brief closure, the Wadsworth dog park reopens Monday, and with that reopening comes some improvements: a new bench, landscaping, mulch and repainted fire hydrants.
The park closed April 5 as a precautionary measure when county staff learned that a dog with an active case of the contagious parvovirus had visited the park. Since then, county officials have cleaned the area by removing dog droppings and spraying the ground with a bleach product designed to remove the virus.
For Lewis Beilman, the closure became a bit of a blessing because it brought much-needed maintenance to the park. Beilman takes his dog, Hero, a miniature schnauzer and Chinese crested poodle mix (Beliman had the dog DNA tested to verify), to the park daily. There, he meets about 20 other dog owners for an hour of socializing, both for dogs and people.
“Upkeep to the area is minimal at best,” Beilman said. “A big problem has been with vandalism.”
Beilman said via email and phone interview that, in the past, there were no benches or hoses, so patrons of the park supplied their own. If left overnight, however, the property was either stolen or destroyed. Beilman said he is encouraged to see new benches at the park.
“The dog park should have the same priority as other parks, beaches and public areas, which not only benefit the taxpayers who use them, but also benefit the entire community,” Beilman said. “We, quite frankly, have been embarrassed when we have brought our out-of-town family and visitors to our dog park. We often hear how much nicer their community dog parks are.”
However, Beilman said he does not want to sound ungrateful, since the county is working to improve the park. He has also corresponded with Jim Landon, city manager of Palm Coast, and Jon Netts, the city’s mayor, about the Holland Park dog park. Improvements have been slated for the park for years, but the project has not yet been funded.
“Mostly, we want to thank the people responsible for the work there, and those working to keep improving our dog parks,” Beilman said. “They’re a very important part of our community.”
As for the virus, Flagler County’s Agricultural Extension Service learned that it would be practically impossible to eliminate the virus from an outdoor area because it can persist in the soil for years.
“Since the exposure risk is high in places commonly frequented by dogs, the best practice is to ensure that dogs are properly vaccinated against parvovirus,” wrote Dr. Cynda Crawford of the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Science in a letter to the county.
Crawford said puppy owners should avoid taking their dogs to the parks until they are old enough to be vaccinated.
There have been signs posted at Wadsworth Park encouraging dog owners to vaccinate their pets since the park opened.
In addition to the action at the dog park, the skatepark at Wadsworth will be closed for maintenance and repairs on April 23 and 24. It will reopen April 25.