RADFORD – By the time the dog days of summer are in full swing, Radford’s dogs should have a new place to roam.
The city is set to open a new dog park this summer behind the Fraternal Order of Police building along the river. The park has a shelter where dog owners can relax as their dogs play, enjoy lunch or host other activities. There is a water spigot on-site so dogs can get a needed drink after all that fun. The fenced-in, one-acre park will allow dogs to run off leash safely, says Radford City Manager David Ridpath.
“This will give people a safe place to keep their dogs off of a leash,” said Ridpath. “All the stars just came into alignment for this project and this is a great use of vacant property along the riverfront. “
Ridpath explained that the dog park is one of several natural activities the city is promoting along its riverfront, along with the new community garden and development of the athletic complex across from Dudley’s Landing.
“These are all inexpensive, quality of life projects we can do,” he said.
The Radford Parks and Recreation Department will oversee the dog park. Parks and Recreation Director Ken Goodyear says he feels this is a much needed addition to Radford’s parks.
“All you have to do is go down to Bisset Park and see all the dogs to know how much this is needed,” he said.
Radford Mayor Dr. Bruce Brown said the request for a dog park has been high on the list for may Radford citizens for years and was discussed in-depth at last year’s city council retreat. Brown credits a $1,000 donation from the Horton/ Lorton family for trees and landscaping work for making the project come to fruition. The new dog park is at the site of the city’s former shooting range, which was named for former Radford Police Chief William D. Lorton Jr., who served as Chief of Police for about 15 years before retiring in 1975. Lorton was himself a dog lover, having three unofficial police dogs – German Shepherds Caesar, King and Inga – during his time as police chief. Lorton’s grandson, David Horton, presented the donation to city leaders on behalf of the family earlier this week. Horton explained the donation is in honor of his grandfather and his grandmother, Pauline R. Lorton, who passed away last October at 93.
Horton and his wife, Sandy, along with his mom Lois L. Horton, sister is Beth Connelly and her sons Ryan Stephens and Matthew Connelly made the donation.
“The family is honored to help repurpose this space for the use of our canine friends and their families,” Horton said.
As Chairman of the Radford Beautification and Municipal Forestry Commission, using the donation for trees is even better. Horton, city officials, citizens-at-large and Radford University recently planted the trees at the site.
“I’m so glad to be part of getting more trees planted in our city,” he said. “And I’d like to recognize the students, faculty and staff who came out to help plant the trees and to paint as a part of the Scholar-citizen initiative at RU along with members of the Radford Noon Rotary Club.”
Ridpath said the city will working on the rules and regulations for the dog park over the next month, to be approved by city council in June with a July open date slated for the park.