Dayton residents are ready to fight for downtown’s only dog park

Deeds Point has the only dog park in the downtown area, and some residents fear it may be eliminated to make way for new housing.

Supporters of Deeds Point Dog Park say they are prepared to organize to protect what they say is an important amenity.

The Deeds Point area has been targeted for redevelopment for more than a dozen years, but downtown needs one or more dog parks and developers are cognizant of this, city officials said.

But new development shouldn’t have to harm an existing community asset, which would be very difficult to replace or replicate, said Justin Cohen, 35, who has two dogs and visits the Deeds Point dog park regularly.

“I think this dog park should stay where it’s at, because we’ve built the community around the park, and picking it up and transplanting it elsewhere will never recreate what’s already existing,” he said.

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At a Dayton City Commission meeting, Cohen presented the city’s elected leaders with a petition signed by more than 120 people urging the city of Dayton to “save” Deeds Point Dog Park and prevent it from becoming condos or a parking lot.

Cohen said he attended the commission meeting to try to gauge city leaders’ thoughts on the dog park and where they stand on trying to keep it.

He said he was disappointed with the city’s response, because he believes the main priority is new development.

Many people who live downtown have furry companions, and Deeds Point Dog Park is popular among pet owners, including the hundreds of people who have moved into the new apartments in the Water Street District.

Water Street already has nearly 350 apartments, and 54 more are under construction. More units are planned for just east of Fifth Third Field.

Supporters say the Deeds Point Dog Park is very convenient for people who live in and around downtown, since the next closest park is miles away, near Benchwood Road.

A riverfront master plan that is in development identifies the Deeds Point area as a good potential site for housing.

The Water Street developers Crawford Hoying and Woodard Development have a purchase option for most of the property in the area, which belongs to the city of Dayton.

The firms are exploring development options, and housing would likely be the driver given the great views of downtown, officials said.

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The specific site of the dog park would be attractive as housing, because of its proximity the river and because it offers great views of downtown, Dickstein said.

But city officials say the city and potential developers recognize that the increased number of people living downtown, many of whom don’t have yards, necessitates the need for a dog park or parks. New development could mean the area would get a nicer dog park, possibly with upgraded amenities, said Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein.

But Cohen said the dog park already has an ideal location and features, including storage, restrooms, water hook-ups, a heated building, picnic tables, shelter, shade wooded areas and other useful features.

Another citizen who spoke at the meeting said it would be a shame to lose “another community space that a lot of citizens have put a lot of effort and time into,” alluding to the city’s eviction of Garden Station.

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