New artificial turf dog park coming to Scioto Audubon Metro Park

The popular dog park at Scioto Audubon Metro Park near downtown will close in December and will be replaced by a new 33,000 square meter artificial turf dog park near the park entrance by Metro Parks Columbus and Franklin County.

Metro Parks is closing the current dog park, which has been open since 2012, because the Ohio Department of Transportation needs the space for equipment and supplies to continue renovation work on Interstates 70 and 71 Downtown.

The state is paying Metro Parks $ 821,600 for that land, Metro Parks spokeswoman Peg Hanley said.

Metro Parks’ board of directors this week approved $ 383,126 for the purchase of 33,000 square feet of synthetic surface from Forever Lawn of Ohio. Metro Parks purchases it through the Houston-Galveston, Texas Area Council’s purchasing program, which is used by 8,200 government agencies across the country.

Nola, right, a Cattle Dog mix, and Luka, a Labradoodle, seek shade under one of the agility obstacles at Scioto Audubon Dog Park.

The new 0.75 hectare dog park is being built near the entrance to the Scioto Audubon Metro Park on the southern edge of the park near the park offices. The current dog park is located at the north end of the park near Interstates 70 and 71.

Metro Parks plans to close the current dog park on December 3rd and open the new one that day, although all work will not be completed until next year, said Steve Studenmund, Metro Parks strategic planning and land acquisition manager.

The district will continue to work on two animal shelters at the dog park and a new parking lot this winter, he said.

The new dog park will also have grass. Metro Parks employees will clean the artificial turf, and aggregates will divert the water into drains that lead it to rainwater basins, Studenmund said.

“Hopefully we have park users cleaning up their pets,” he said.

Metro Parks is planning a public education program in September to educate dog park users of the changes, Studenmund said.

Ellie Hessler is playing with her dog Nola (right) and her mother's dog, Luka, at the Scioto Audubon Dog Park in Columbus on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.

Aubrey Verner visited the dog park for the first time on Thursday morning with her gray Shih Tzu Edgar. Verner, 24, just moved to Whitehall from Ann Arbor, Michigan and has been to the dog park in Big Walnut Park on the East Side.

She said she had never taken Edgar to a dog park with artificial turf but thought it would be a good idea as she stood in the damp grass with all the rain that has fallen over the past week. “It’s kind of muddy,” she said.

She was also happy that the new park is near the entrance of Scioto Audubon. “It was a hike here,” said Verner of the current dog park.

ODOT will need the current dog parking space when it begins work on the next phase of the $ 1.4 billion project to rebuild I-70 and I-71 through downtown. This phase will include rebuilding bridges over Route 315 and the Scioto River, said ODOT spokeswoman Breanna Badanes. This work is scheduled to begin in spring 2022.

Badanes said the contractor will likely put up a fence around the site.

A groundskeeper will mow a lawn near the site for the new Scioto Audubon Dog Park in Columbus on Wednesday, August 18, 2021.  The dog park will move closer to the park office on the south side of the park to use space for ODOT to the land of the current dog park for the I-70 project.

mferench@dispatch.com

@MarkFerenchik

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