Seminole Heights residents speak up on potential dog park

Residents sound off on a proposed dog park at Henry and Ola Park in Seminole Heights.

Positive opinion was lead by Mauricio Rosas, a Seminole Heights resident who has been campaigning for a dog park in the area for almost two years. As he stood with his service dog Roscoe, he spoke of Seminole Heights Dog Park, the main group behind the initiative, and the efforts to raise money within the community to help subsidize the cost. The group is well known outside of the dog park campaign for their Saturday morning dog walks to landmarks throughout the neighborhood.

While everyone attending was pro-dog and liked the idea of a dog park, several were not thrilled with the location. Parking was constantly brought up, as cars often ignore the designated parking and instead park on the sidewalk along Henry and Ola Park. Some felt that the park is currently overcrowded, as it already contains a soccer field, baseball diamond and basketball court, and that the area proposed for the dog park would remove Henry and Ola's last naturally serene clearing.

“That is the only part of the park that's left that is beautiful and natural and you can go sit and read a book,” said Tammy Hellman, a Seminole Heights resident for 25 years. “It's a shame that we want to ruin that part of the park cause it absolutely gorgeous.”

Utilizing a park with more space, such as the nearby Rivercrest Park, was mentioned.

There was also a criticism of the type of people a dog park may attract, as some in attendance felt that after the soccer fields were constructed it brought in people that used foul language and brought down the atmosphere.

“I'm just afraid that the dog park won't just be us in it,” said Hellman. “It's going to bring in people that aren't going to respect our neighborhood.”

Throughout most of the meeting a man was playing with his dog outside of the center. The dog had no leash, which is illegal in any public area in the city besides a dog park.

Parks and Recreation plan to take the opinions into consideration and schedule another meeting for the community in the future.

  • Karen Cashon shows a map of Tampa's registered dog ownership. Seminole Heights has between 1 and 5 thousand dogs registered.

The city of Tampa's Parks and Recreation Department sought the locals opinion about a potential dog park added to Henry and Ola Park Wednesday night at the Seminole Garden Center.

Karen Cashon and Heather Wolf-Erickson presented a concept for the park, which would be a fenced-in area in an undeveloped part of Henry and Ola Park. Features would include water fountains for both humans and canines and handicap accessible pathways. Current cost estimates came at just under $40 thousand. Both stressed that all plans were strictly hypothetical and no money has been secured by the city.

“We've had a lot of community support and had some people who were not interested in the dog park,” said Wolf-Erickson of the planning process, “so I get to listen to both of those phone calls and I'm excited to listen to people who don't want it and I'm excited to listen to those that do. Maybe it's not the right place, maybe we have to keep looking but we wanted to do our due diligence. Yes there are a lot of dogs in the area, but there's no formula. Just because you want it doesn’t mean we need it. That's why we're doing this background work.”

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