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Chesnut dog park not quite ready

(ran EO edition)

It looked as if the paw playground at John Chesnut Sr. Park might let the dogs in early, a few weeks ahead of the scheduled grand opening Aug. 9.

But eager pooches will have to keep the leashes on a little longer.

Most of the work is done, said Mike Butts, assistant park supervisor, but wet weather has delayed the delivery of the sod needed to patch the ground around the watering and cooling-off stations. The sod farm has been flooded. And gates to keep the dogs in the two areas arrived in the wrong size. New ones will be delivered this week. Butts said the plumbing is all in for the three drinking stations and two cooling stations.

"We had hoped to have it open this weekend, but we're just not there yet," he said. "Once the signs are up and they see dogs in it, they'll know it's ready to go."

Monte Alfonso, parks program coordinator for Pinellas County, said that won't be until 9 a.m. Aug. 9, complete with grand opening festivities.

Alfonso said there will be a training demonstration by the Suncoast Dog Training Club and many animal rescue groups; a dog-product company also will participate.

"And probably most important, we're asking owners to pick up after their pets," he said. "We will provide bags and disposal."

He said this will be the sixth dog park Pinellas County has opened in two years; other paw playgrounds opened at Anderson Park, Fort De Soto Park, Boca Ciega Park, Sand Key Park and Walsingham Park.

Anderson's dog park will get a break after Chesnut's for a few weeks so grass can be planted in areas with soil erosion.

Anderson Park Supervisor Mike Zubler said the rainy season delayed his sod delivery last year, and he'll wait to see when the Chesnut dog park opens.

"Once I have a firm date, I'll put up a sign," he said. "We'll give them three or four weeks' notice."

The new park at Chesnut is covered with pine trees and some oaks and is located next to the children's playground.

Zubler expects to lose some of his regulars to the new park.

"You see the same people over and over and over again," he said. "They love it. Generally speaking, they enjoy the heck out of it."

When the rain lets up, or by Aug. 9, dogs in North Pinellas will have another place to romp and play unfettered.

_ If you have news or photos about East Lake schools, churches, businesses, neighborhood groups, community organizations or people, call Theresa Blackwell at 445-4229, fax it to her at 445-4206, e-mail or mail material to her at the North Pinellas Times, 34342 U.S. 19 N, Palm Harbor, FL 34684.

From left, beagles Mo, 4, and Mischa, 3, sniff their way through John Chesnut Sr. Park with owner Petra Garmatz of East Lake on Wednesday. Monte Alfonso, parks program coordinator for Pinellas County, said the paw playground at the park will open 9 a.m. Aug. 9.