Resident proposes plan to establish dog park near Ella Harris

The dog park is proposed to be erected between Ella Harris Park and the Mullica Hill water tower.

Resident Alexander Howarth presented plans to the township committee at its June 17 meeting to create a dog park in town.

Some of the benefits of having a dog park is it’s a safe area so owners can talk while dogs play and socialize,” Howarth. “It creates a sense of community so owners can talk and create friends. When they do talk, they’ll likely have their dogs join them at a friends’ house. It brings together the whole community.”

He proposed creating the park somewhere in the nine-acre open space between Ella Harris Park and the Mullica Hill water tower. He’s looking to use 1.5 to 2.5 acres of that land.

The 14-year-old, who is also the son of a recreation employee, said area businesses would benefit from the park with PetValu across the street and various veterinarians and groomers nearby.

He added the park would also support responsible ownership, stating if a person sees an owner not obeying the rules, they’d be more inclined to intervene to not give dog owners a bad reputation.

Some of the things that would need to be purchased are fences to create the enclosure, wood chips because they’re low-maintenance, water access for people and dogs to drink from, garbage cans and bag receptacles for waste bags in the event someone forgets their own and signs showing the rules of the park,” Howarth said.

Proposed rules are: all dogs must be up to date on vaccines and be licensed, owners are responsible for their dogs and assume all risks, dogs that are aggressive toward people or other dogs are prohibited, dogs that are ill are prohibited, leashes and harmful collars (choke, prong, etc.) must be taken off, no other pets are allowed in, and the in and out gates must not be open at the same time.

Other towns, Howarth added, have also split their dog parks in half to allow small dogs on one side, and larger dogs on the other to prevent injuries.

Howarth estimated the park to cost around $40,000 after learning about how much other towns in Gloucester County paid to create theirs. He said funds could be generated through donations, “township contributions,” Eagle Scouts and through dog licenses.

One of the challenges is the township owns that property because of where it is in terms of Ella Harris and the commerce section in town,” Mayor Louis Manzo said. “We subdivided the property where the entire frontage is saved for an eventual retail to attract people in. Now, that leaves the rest of the field where there’s a tentative, not set in stone, plan for more fields, amphitheater and other things.

He added the township is seeking to have whoever creates the amphitheater and fields to foot the bill. The proposed dog park, he added, would fit in to those plans, but the township would have figure out exact costs, rules, size and “any other tactical things,” such as how to access the park through Ella Harris.

Howarth said the park could be created through fundraising and donations. Deputy Mayor Don Heim suggested he reach out to Harrison Township Youth Basketball with his plans so he can receive monetary support for the park.

I’m going to work with Alex on his dog park idea to see what can be done,” Deputy Township Administrator Dennis Chambers said. “I’ve seen some of the parks he’s talking about, and we want to try to make it the nicest one in the area. There are some other options that would work as well if not better with less up-front infrastructure costs.”

In other news:

  • The township is working with several local sports organizations to remedy many of the issues that were brought to the township’s attention at Pleasant Valley Recreation Park.
  • Residents are reminded to adhere to the township’s recycling procedures that can be found by visiting www.HarrisonTwp.US and clicking “trash and recycling” in the bottom toolbar.
  • The nonprofit Timothy’s Helping Heroes will be hosting a fundraiser at American Legion Post 452 on July 5 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. There will be food, drinks, music and various activities.
  • On July 27 at William Heritage Winery there will be a “Toast to Harrison Township” co-sponsored by the recreation committee. The event costs $10 to get in and toasts will occur at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Food trucks, music and other activities will take place that day. Visit www.HeritageWineNJ.com for more information.
  • Manzo said the county will be doing work at the Route 322 and Kings Highway intersection (near Kingsway Regional).
  • Chambers said the township would need to figure out how to remedy some drainage issues at Ella Harris Park as portions of it flood.
  • Trash and recycling pickup for those on a Thursday schedule for Independence Day will occur on July 3.

The next committee meeting is scheduled for July 1 at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Court Room.