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Marion’s dog park is moving forward.

Earlier this week, Town Manager Bill Rush reported that he’d given the go-ahead on the park. Five-foot high commercial black fencing of the best gauge is on order, he reported, saying they’d chosen quality fencing – “something we can be proud of.”

The dog park is being developed on a section of land at the corner of Callan Drive and Park Boulevard near the Emory & Henry School of Health Sciences. The town acquired the land when it purchased the old quarry. While the town hopes to transform much of the property into a multi-use recreation area, Rush has said this segment isn’t workable for anything else, but would be perfect for a dog park.

Officials have been looking at options for such a park since the summer of 2017 when Ken Heath, Marion’s community and economic development director, took on the project.

For Heath, the dog park is “a passion project.”

He took on the project as a private citizen and dog owner and pledged to raise the money needed for fencing, equipment and other amenities needed to transform a site into a dog health and fun zone.

The idea of a dog park was first introduced in late 2014, but didn’t gain traction until Heath championed it. He’d lost his beloved yellow labs, Sophie and Sadie, to chronic kidney disease and “vowed to do something to make sure their legacy of love wouldn’t be forgotten and soon learned there were so many of you who, like us, love their pups.” A few months later, Heath and his wife got a puppy. In a letter to the editor, he wrote, “We quickly realized what others had been saying -- a community park where dogs can run, play and socialize is sorely needed here. A place where trainers can offer classes, groups can offer adoption events. A place for our pups.”

He approached the town with an idea. If the town would donate land and provide maintenance for the dog park, he’d raise the money to develop it.

Thursday, Heath said, he’s continuing to raise funds for the project, which is about $2,500 short of the $10,000 goal. However, he said, “It's under construction!” 

Last month, Rush said the park could open sometime this summer.

The park will feature two areas: one for larger dogs and a separate space for small dogs.

In past discussions, elements of the dog park have included a water supply, shade, exercise and training stations, and receptacles for dog waste disposal. Rules and regulations will be developed and posted.

Heath also would like to see a memorial wall for dogs created.

Individuals interested in making a contribution may visit https://www.gofundme.com/marion-va-dog-park or send a check to Marion Dog Park, c/o Ken Heath, P.O. Box 1005, Marion VA 24354.

A nearby sinkhole on the quarry property will be fenced off.

The property is near to land where developers are working to build multiple forms of housing and commercial businesses to serve the School of Health Sciences’ students and faculty.

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