Dog park plans fall by wayside

Almost seven months after a dog park in Moorestown was initially proposed, Moorestown Boy Scout Troop member John Matthews submitted a statement that the township has decided not to move forward with the project due to a lack of funds and a suitable location.

Matthews had proposed the park as part of an Eagle Scout project in early February to both the Recreation Advisory Committee and the town council and had since worked with the township to see the project come to fruition.

“We worked very closely with him,” Moorestown Director of Recreation Theresa Miller said.

Miller explained that those involved included township manager Scott Carew, the Moorestown police department and the department of community development.

The proposal came before the Recreation Advisory Committee on Feb. 5, later being approved by the town council on Feb. 18.

“We had a significant amount of resources that we used to help John do the project,” Miller said. “We looked at as many sites as possibilities in the town.”

Of those locations considered by the township were Pryor Park, Wigmore Acres, Locust Park and Wesley Bishop Park. Miller also explained that the township met with Toll Brothers for a possible location.

Depending on the needs of each specific location, Miller said the township reached out to resources such as the Burlington County planning board engineer for permit information and the police department for reports on how the park would affect traffic in the area.

“A lot of the infrastructure on the new sites becomes very costly,” Miller said.

To construct the park from the ground up, Miller explained that everything, including parking permits, trash receptacles, ADA compliancy structures, landscaping, fencing and benches, would be needed to facilitate the park, not including the yearly maintenance fees and supervision of the park.

“Basically, the town wasn’t prepared to take on the cost of maintenance,” Miller said.

In addition, residents located close to Pryor Park voiced concerns about the dog park, being that it would be too close to their houses and too close to children playing.

“We really tried to help and bring this along,” Miller said.

She added that the town and the recreation advisory committee had met with Matthews on several occasions to discuss the logistics.

“I sincerely appreciate the offers of support, both monetary and otherwise, that I received from so many people in Moorestown,” Matthews wrote in an emailed statement. “I am disappointed that we weren’t successful in adding a dog park to Moorestown’s recreational facilities.”

During Matthews’ initial proposal to council, he said the park would help to curtail the number of residents who walk their dogs off-leash in recreational fields to help provide a safer environment for the dogs and to preserve the fields.

Matthews originally estimated that the park would cost between $10,000 to $15,000 to complete, but did not include materials and labor for fencing, which he hoped could be donated by contractors.