Proposed Bethesda dog park at Norwood Local Park could cost $500,000

Proposed downtown Bethesda dog park would cost about $500,000

Park would have separate areas for small and large pups

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A concept plan for the proposed dog park at Norwood Local Park.

via Montgomery County Parks Department

A proposal for a new dog park – downtown Bethesda’s first — in Norwood Park could cost up to $500,000, providing an 18,000 square foot facility with separate areas for small and large pups.

The dog park would sit near the center of Norwood, between the softball and baseball fields. It would be encircled by a roughly 6-foot tall fence, and include seating, shade and a water source.

During a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, Project Manager Christie Ciabotti said the Parks Department has not yet decided whether to build the dog park, but is gathering feedback from community members to help make its decision. Planners estimate the project would cost about $500,000.

“While this may seem like a large sum, these facilities require careful planning and specific infrastructure,” Ciabotti said.

The Parks Department has money in its budget to build dog parks, skate parks and community gardens, Parks Department staff members said.

The section of the park for large dogs would be about 13,000 square feet, while the section for small dogs would be about 5,000 square feet.

The surface of the park would either be mulch, crushed stone, turf or a combination of the three elements.

Parks Department staff members said Norwood is an ideal location for a dog park because it is a large, open space, and it provides a “buffer” between the dog park and nearby residences.

There are about 130 feet between the location of the proposed dog park and the closest residences, Ciabotti said.

The park is also within walking distance of downtown Bethesda, and many people already walk their dogs in the area, staff said.

Ciabotti said Parks Department staff members have fielded many questions and concerns from people who live near Norwood. Some people have expressed concerns that the dog park would increase traffic in the area and that there is not enough parking available, she said.

Caibotti told attendees to “rest assured that we have heard those concerns.” While parking improvements are not part of the dog park project, the county is pursuing a separate project at the nearby recreation building that would include parking accommodations.

Some participants in the meeting said many people use the open space where the dog park is proposed. They urged planners not to build the dog park and to instead let dogs run off-leash during designated hours.

Ciabotti said it is against Parks Department regulations and county law to allow dogs to be off-leash.

“This is diabolical. By creating a fenced-in dog park in the center of the park the natural beauty of the park will be taken away,” one person posted in the comments section during the meeting.

Another wrote back: “This is wonderful. By creating a fenced-in dog park in the center of the park the beautiful and varied use of the park will be enhanced.”

The idea for the Norwood dog park was first proposed as the result of a countywide study, completed in June 2019, aiming to increase the number of play areas for dogs. The study recommended 13 locations for new parks. The county currently has 11 dog parks: seven owned and operated by the county, and four run by municipalities.

Other recommended sites were: North Chevy Chase Local Park, Elm Street Urban Park, Willard Avenue Local Park, Wall Local Park, Jesup-Blair Local Park, South Four Corners Neighborhood Park, Layhill Village Local Park, Washington Square Local Park, Ovid Hazen Well Recreational Park, Calverton-Galway Local Park, South Four Corners Neighborhood Park and South Germantown Recreational Park.

Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at caitlynn.peetz@bethesdamagazine.com

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