Many pick bones with idea for Lake Harvey dog park

Discussion about building a dog park at the Lake Harvey Stormwater Storage Project reared its head at the Port St. Lucie City Council most recent regular meeting Jan. 22.

“I’ve been asked about that location right there several times for a dog park,” Vice Mayor Shannon Martin said at the meeting.

But, dog lovers are a long way from packing up their pooches to go play in the proposed park at the intersection of St. Lucie West and Cashmere boulevards. Discussions about a Lake Harvey dog park are nowhere near decisions.

The city doesn’t yet have an agreement with the property owner, the St. Lucie West Services District, to build anything at Lake Harvey. Neither does it yet have any money budgeted to design and build a park there. At the meeting, the council did give a nod for city staff to keep talking to residents about what – if anything – should be built at Lake Harvey.

City staff and Dennis Pickle, manager and utilities director at the services district, met with about 150 residents of Kings Isle – which abuts the Lake Harvey property – a couple days after the council meeting. Pickle said in an interview after the meetings that residents growled at the revived dog park proposal.

“The consensus we received from the public is about 90 percent of the people were opposed to a dog park being adjacent to their community,” he said.

Normally, park planning is something done by a city or county alone. Advocates and opponents of various park proposals have only one elected body to convince. In this case, that would be the Port St. Lucie City Council. However, because the St. Lucie West Services District owns the land and would have to enter an inter-local agreement with the city for it to build anything on it, two elected bodies will have to nod at any proposal.

John Carvelli represents St. Lucie West on the City Council. He said if folks in Kings Isle largely oppose a dog park at Lake Harvey, then the proposal will be a dog that just won’t hunt. Besides, he’s skeptical it’d be a good idea even if everybody loved it.

“Yes, I’d like to see a dog park in St. Lucie West,” he said. “I think people would love that. But I don’t think on that Lake Harvey parcel there’s any room to put a dog park.”

The parcel is 12.5 acres, but a manmade lake takes up 8. Additionally, land is taken up by a services district self-imposed 25-foot vegetation buffer between Lake Harvey and its neighbors. Previously Pickle told St. Lucie Voice that after accounting for various land consumers, there’s only about an acre at Lake Harvey to build a park. And that would include parking.

Mayor Gregory Oravec broached the idea of a dog park at a February council meeting last year. At the time, other council members hummed agreement. However, at the recent meeting Oravec seemed to have cooled on the idea. Oravec said he’s now skeptical there has been enough community discussion to know what the best park proposal for Lake Harvey is.

“I honestly could imagine all kinds of things here,” he said at the meeting.

Councilwoman Stephanie Morgan said she’s now certain a dog park isn’t one to imagine.

“The dog park down on (Southwest Cameo Boulevard) is probably a much better idea,” she said at the meeting.

Pickle said in an interview after the meeting that the services district has other parcels in St. Lucie West that it will offer the city for considering a dog park, so with or without Lake Harvey the idea of a dog park in St. Lucie West is alive.

The services district can only provide land for any park proposals. It isn’t chartered to spend anything for recreational uses. No matter what land it offers the city for a park, the services district board of supervisors and City Council will have to agree what will be built on it. Pickle said it’s unlikely the board of supervisors can or would enter into an inter-local agreement without knowing what the city plans.

When the district got 12.5 acres of some of the most desirable commercial property in St. Lucie West in 2014 for $4.4 million, a park was on a lot of minds and lips. That park idea was put off for a couple years as the stormwater management facility was designed and built. The district’s board of supervisors revived the park conversation in early 2016. It has approached the city and county about creating a passive-use park there.

The St. Lucie West Services District will dedicate the Lake Harvey Stormwater Storage Project on Monday, Feb. 5. The dedication will be at 10:30 a.m. The public is invited.

Parking for the dedication will be at western side of the Lowe’s parking lot, 701 NW St. Lucie West Boulevard.

St. Lucie Voice contacted the Kings Isle Community Association for comment, but hadn’t heard back by press time.

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