Wheeling hopes to get Fitzsimmons Family Dog Park open next month

WHEELING — Poodles, beagles and bulldogs will have to wait another month to run free again at the East Wheeling dog park because city leaders said protecting dogs’ paws from shards of glass is paramount.

Thursday, city leaders announced another donation from the Fitzsimmons Family Foundation, this one in the amount of $32,000, to repair the park that closed in March. Located at East Wheeling’s Tunnel Green Recreation Complex, the site already is officially known as the Fitzsimmons Family Dog Park: A PetSafe Park.

“We are happy that we are able to help with the renovations to the dog park and can’t wait to see all our furry friends playing at the park this summer!” the Fitzsimmons Law Firm stated Thursday via Twitter.

City Manager Robert Herron said officials will use this $32,000, along with another $30,000 left over from the money raised for the park’s initial construction, to complete the required repairs.

The project will be administered through the Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley.

“This park has been an outstanding and very popular addition to the city’s park system,” said Herron. “It not only provides two expansive areas for dogs to enjoy, but also is an excellent area for socialization amongst dog owners.”

Herron said the city has spent about $55,000 of taxpayers’ money on the park. Most of that money has been used to pay for the multiple inches of topsoil spread across the site of more than 2 acres.

Other funds for the park came through donations and fundraising endeavors. The city already owned the land, which spared the expense of purchasing a site.

Herron said the grass at the park is dying after operations employees sprayed it with herbicide. He does not believe this chemical will harm dogs.

Once the grass is dead and removed, Herron said officials will mix the topsoil which remains at the park. He said plans call for then applying up to 3 inches of additional topsoil on top of the dirt that is already there. Then, officials will install sod to complete the park’s surface.

Officials said this morning they hope to get the park open again by “mid-June.”

In March, West Liberty University student Lex Buell’s 2-year-old puppy, Jax, injured his paws from glass shards at the park. Since then, the park has been closed.

After several years of work and fundraising, the dog park officially opened in October. The effort to build a dog park in Wheeling dates to late 2012. In 2013, organizers won $25,000 as a runner-up in PetSafe’s “Bark for Your Park” online voting contest.