Mt. Laurel Council discusses change in location for new dog park

The site could move from Mt. Laurel Road to Marne Highway if the township is able to conduct remediation work related to arsenic levels in the soil

Mt. Laurel Township is still on track for a new dog park, but where that park might be built is still in question.

At the Oct. 24 town council meeting, Mayor Linda Bobo said there was a new opportunity to possibly remediate arsenic levels in the soil at a site on Marne Highway and build the new dog park there.

Bobo said the township recently received an offer from the Burlington County Bridge Commission to help get the township a grant that would pay for remediation work at the Marne Highway site and make the area suitable for the park. Such a plan would differ from what council approved last year when it originally voted to the build the park at a site along Mt. Laurel Road.

“It’s not that it’s not being built, it’s that we’re just trying to determine the best site for it,” Bobo said. “It’s just on hold until we can determine if that is the best site for it.”

Councilman Jim Keenan questioned the possible change in plans, noting council never voted to change the location of the park from Mt. Laurel Road and never voted to stop work from beginning at that site. Keenan said work was scheduled to begin at the Mt. Laurel Road site on Columbus Day.

“Council, with five members, voted in public to have the dog park there on Mt. Laurel Road. Did we have a vote last week when I wasn’t here to move it?” Keenan asked.

Bobo said there was no such vote, but noted she had called all members of council, including Keenan, and explained the opportunity that was being offered to the township.

“I called council members and said ‘there’s an opportunity and we should think about it,’” Bobo said.

Acting township manager Meredith Tomczyk said prior to council’s last meeting, the majority of council wanted to discuss the issue together, so Tomczyk said she stopped the project from beginning at the Mt. Laurel Road site.

Bobo said the remaining members of council present at the previous week’s meeting then discussed the issue in closed session.

“We’re not stopping the dog park. We’re just investigating another option,” Bobo said.

Keenan continued to critique the situation however, and questioned the safety of the potential new site.

“I would not want to put a dog out there with arsenic, because who’s going to put their nose in the dirt — it’s dogs, and that would be an issue with me,” Keenan said.

Bobo said that wouldn’t be an issue if the site were remediated and described the site as an “excellent” spot for a dog park.

“There’s no recreation on that side of town, and that side of town has a lot of multi-family housing — there’s lots of apartments and condominiums and townhouses on that side of town, and they have dogs,” Bobo said.

The next meeting of the Mt. Laurel Township Council is scheduled for Nov. 14.