Dog park proponents barking up wrong tree

Supporters of creating a dog park in the Bethany Beach did not get the support from the town council that they may have hoped for on Oct. 19. After previously raising the idea as one possible use at the undeveloped town-owned property at Routes 1 and 26, proponents of the dog park have repeatedly been told by some council members that they think the idea is wrong for Bethany Beach.

“I don’t believe we have the resources of space to provide a park that would be open to everyone in the area,” Mayor Carol Olmstead said last Friday, repeating her suggestion that the request for a dog park be raised with the Sussex County Council instead of the town. “I know there has been interest from dog owners who feel there is a need for such a park. But I don’t believe a dog park would be in the best interests of the town.”

Council Member Tracy Mulligan, who formally introduced the issue at the request of dog park proponents, said he couldn’t support the idea either.

However, Mulligan said he was very much open to proponents of a dog park bringing their own ideas and information forward to the council and town committees, though it was up to them to expend the resources needed to bring any proposals forward to the town. As for the town manager expending town resources, he said he could not recommend that.

Part-time resident Lois Lipsett — a proponent of the dog park — praised Mulligan for raising the issue before the council and encouraged them not to vote on Oct. 19, saying it was too soon to make a formal vote about establishing a dog park, with too much more information still needed, including cost estimates.

Resident Michael Horn agreed, offering that the group of proponents could pull together more information and thus make the council’s decision easier.

Nonetheless, council members voted unanimously (Bob Parsons absent) on Oct. 19 to direct the town manager not to expend town resources on investigating establishment of a dog park, leaving it to those seeking such a park to pursue the idea with county government or to bring a convincing presentation to the town in the future.