Pet lovers renew hopes for Pinecrest dog park

Now that Pinecrest leaders have made on offer on a possible new park site, some dog lovers in the village are hoping for a place where Fido can run free.

The Village Council in May offered to buy 5 acres at the corner of Southwest 72nd Avenue and 96th Street, formerly known as “the horse farm,” for $2.5 million. Council members want to use the site for a park, but they weren’t sure what kind.

Mayor Cindy Lerner said the village doesn’t need more athletic fields.

“No more sports,” she said. “Every other park is just consumed by it.”

Since 2010, the council has considered adding dog-friendly areas to existing Pinecrest parks, including Veterans Wayside Park and Coral Pine Park. But the council only got as far as a vote in one instance.

“After looking at every square inch, the only space that it made any sense was Veterans Wayside, but it wasn’t ideal because it was too small,” said Lerner about the vote that didn’t pass in 2010.

Pinecrest has seven parks, including Pinecrest Gardens and the Community Center. While over 50 percent of residents denied the need for more green space in an April community survey, 52 percent responded in favor of a dog park and 64 percent in favor of purchasing the former horse farm.

Carmen Lucas, a Pinecrest resident and French bulldog owner, has supported a dog park since the initiative began. She and roughly a dozen other residents have come together to advocate for it by holding meetings at the Village Municipal Center, of which there have been two.

“It’s been proven that it’s therapeutic to have a pet,” said Lucas who was disheartened when the Veterans Wayside vote did not pass. “It’s beneficial to residents of Pinecrest and surrounding communities, and it becomes social grounds for everyone not just the pets.”

Lucas’ son, Max, 15, is a Pinecrest Youth Advisory Council member who started a petition in 2010. He gathered more than 300 signatures, and has begun to advocate again by creating a “Pinecrest Dog Park” Facebook page that has collected more than 70 Likes in just a couple of weeks.

“There are a lot of dog owners that I know of, and instead of driving 15 to 20 minutes to get to Palmetto Bay we can drive two to three minutes to get to a dog park here,” Max said.

The nearest dog parks to Pinecrest are Perrine Wayside Park in Palmetto Bay and the Bark Park Dog Park at Tropical Park. Advocates say a closer park would make Pinecrest an even more desirable place to live, and that sponsorships could pay for some of the costs.

Councilman Joseph Corradino attended the group’s last meeting to answer questions.

“If the village buys the property there are a lot of things to consider, like money set aside, conceptual design and public involvement,” Corradino said. “They understand it’s not something that happens overnight.”

Corradino added that there’s no guarantee that the village will reach a deal to buy the horse farm property.

“I wouldn’t want to overpay for the land,” said Corradino. “But if we could pick up land at the right price now, that’s certainly less than it will be in a couple of years.”

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