Councilman calls out the canine cavalry to help build new dog park in February

A week after local football fans thrill to TV coverage of Super Bowl LIV from Miami, Melbourne City Councilman Paul Alfrey wants them to get off the couch and help build a new dog park in the Eau Gallie area.

Alfrey and city Parks Manager Nikki Kukstis last week set Feb. 8-9, 2020, for the weekend they hope community volunteers will descend on the city’s Crane Field Park to build Melbourne’s second dog park.

Alfrey led a planning meeting Nov. 22 with local engineers and contractors, who would be volunteering their skills on the bigger tasks in the weeks before residents show up for the smaller jobs.

“On the day of the community build, we’ll have the (recycled) tires there, the recycled paint there and even the sod will be there,” he said. “I’m looking for that Saturday to do the work all day, and by Sunday evening the park will really be done.”

Alfrey suggested the first weekend in February – until Kukstis reminded him that was the weekend of Super Bowl LIV. So in hopes of getting more volunteers, they settled on the following weekend.

Volunteers in April built the city’s first dog park at the Southwest Recreation Complex on West Florida Avenue. Alfrey said his goal is to improve the city’s parks, as much as possible, with volunteer labor and donations instead of tax dollars.

“We did a great project last time,” Alfrey said. “I’d like to do a better project this time.”

As before, Mark Pieloch, owner of the American Muscle Car Museum on Tami Road, is expected to be the biggest donor with $50,000 in benches, chairs, fencing and other park equipment. The planned Pieloch Dog Park at Eau Gallie would take up almost an acre of unused space – formerly a swimming pool and a tennis court – within the Crane Field Park at 1550 Mosswood Dr.

One of the big jobs in the new park will be removing pieces of the old concrete tennis court and using them to make a grass-covered hill that dogs could climb. Lengths of water-sewer pipes would provide exploration tunnels, Alfrey said.

But there’s more concrete at the tennis court than would be needed for a hill, said Palm Bay volunteer John Casey, who previously helped Sheriff Wayne Ivey set up his Animal Services Division.

“The biggest problem will be to get rid of most of that (concrete) stuff,” Casey said. “We won’t be making use of all of that.”

Another task will be disconnecting reuse water from the park’s irrigation lines and replacing it with drinking water, said Joe Sendelbach, the city’s irrigation specialist.

Otherwise, he said, thirsty dogs would lap up the reuse water. Reuse water, made of treated wastewater, works fine nourishing grass – but isn’t good for drinking.

Alfrey said he wanted a splash-pad, where dogs would have fun and get exercise getting blasted with water jets and trying to stamp them out.

Melbourne general contractor David Bell said they might also want a “dry-pad,” where the soaked dogs could dry off before getting back in the owners’ cars.

The issue of lighting wasn’t answered at the meeting. Alfrey questioned if lights were needed if the park closes at sundown. “Nope, this park closes at 9,” Kukstis said.

So Alfrey and the others had a few remaining issues for future meetings.

Residents can also discuss the new dog park plans with Alfrey by the methods he posts on the city of Melbourne’s website: His cell number is 321-508-4339 and email is Paul.Alfrey@mlbfl.org.

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