A destination dog park on Davis Islands will be closed through the dog days of summer and beyond.
The dog park — with 200 feet of beach — closes Monday for renovations that are expected to be complete by December.
"We hope to open it sooner," said Greg Bayor, Tampa's parks and recreation director.
The acre-and-a-half park sits at the south end of the island past the Peter O. Knight Airport on Severn Avenue. Over time, waves from passing ships have eroded the beach. Workers will bring in sand and remove debris. Off the shore, artificial reefs and a breakwater will be installed to lessen future erosion.
During low tide, concrete rubble is exposed on the beach, and recently a dog was injured on a corroded fence, said Carolyn Bigley, who owns Davis Islands Pet Care and co-founded Friends of Davis Islands Dog Parks. She visits the parks daily.
While doing a survey on desired renovations to the park, Bigley found that about 30 percent of dog owners at the park were visiting from other states. More than half did not live on the islands.
Bigley says she is glad to see the coming improvements, but has concerns that people will take their dogs to the sea basin side of the beach while the park is closed. She also is working to address another park problem: dog owners who do not pick up after their pets. She said she scoops 50 pounds of poop each week from the beach park and the dry dog park next to it. (The dry dog park will remain open through the beach renovation.)
Bayor says enforcing poop pickup isn't under his purview.
Along with the beach renovations, the Davis Islands boat ramp will be repaved, and Florida-friendly landscaping will be planted along the shore. The work will cost $273,082, funded through the Community Investment Tax.
While the park is closed, Bayor suggests checking out Picnic Island Beach Dog Park, on the west side of South Tampa. He says it's spectacular.
"One of our goals is to let people know about all our city parks," he said.
The parks and recreation department operates nine dog parks throughout the city. For a list, visit tampagov.net/ parksandrec and click on "Search Parks & Facilities."
Elisabeth Parker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3431.