Citing numerous phone calls and email messages from concerned residents, the New Smyrna Beach City Commission agreed to temporarily close the city’s Turnbull Street Dog Park at 1220 Turnbull Street until complaints about the park can be addressed.
The decision, which was made during the commission’s June 30 budget workshop, followed the presentation of a petition asking the commission to reconsider the location of the park. The petition, which was delivered by New Smyrna Beach resident Dan Moran during the commission’s June 22 meeting, was signed by 45 residents.
Mr. Moran clarified the petition does not oppose the existence of the park, but rather “the way it is configured right now and the location.” He cited noise from dogs visiting the park as a considerable issue for those living in the area.
Roger Miller, who lives adjacent to the dog park, echoed Mr. Moran’s complaint about the noise and pleaded with the commission to resolve the issue.
“What we want to do is find a way to make this work for everybody,” Mr. Moran said.
City Manager Khalil Resheidat recommended to the commission a temporary closure of the park to allow further discussion on the issues raised by residents.
“Under the circumstances, I think that’s a good idea,” responded Commissioner Jason McGuirk, who represents the zone in which the park is located. “It would certainly give me a little more time to talk with the neighbors in the area without them being so emotional and intense about it.”
Signs posted at the park following the budget meeting informed visitors, “Effective July 5 Temporarily Closed Until Further Notice.” The closure also was announced via the city’s social media sites July 1. The social media post prompted a raft of comments, some of which debated whether or not NSB is a “dog friendly” town. While some felt too few dog-friendly parks exist in the area, others felt that NSB’s willingness to welcome dogs into most businesses, including restaurants and supermarkets, is not considerate of those with allergies.
The closure followed a decision by the Volusia County Council June 22 to reject a request to expand the number of dog friendly beaches in the county. Presently Smyrna Dunes Park at 2925 N. Peninsula Ave. in New Smyrna Beach and Lighthouse Point Park at 5000 S. Atlantic Ave. in Ponce Inlet are the only public beach areas that welcome dogs. The council cited concerns over the costs of policing and maintaining any additional dog beaches, as well as health risks and threats to native wildlife.
The Turnbull Street Dog Park opened in February. It is one of two city parks in New Smyrna Beach that are dog friendly, the other is New Smyrna Beach Dog Park at 2641 Paige Ave.
Dog parks in neighboring communities include Rotary Park at 902 W. Park Ave. in Edgewater and Seemor Memorial Dog Park at 5959 S. Spruce Creek Road in Port Orange.
The Code of Ordinances for New Smyrna Beach requires that dogs be kept “under restraint” by their owner when not on the owner’s property. The requirement applies to dogs visiting public parks “except in an area of a public park designated as a ‘dog park.’” The code also requires dogs have some form of identification “indicating the owner’s name and current telephone number at all times.”
In related news, Florida’s Department of Health in Volusia County on June 30 issued a 60-day rabies alert for New Smyrna Beach and portions of unincorporated Volusia County in the vicinity of Glen Havens Estates after a horse tested positive on June 29. DOH-Volusia warned residents and visitors that “rabies is present in the wild animal population and domestic animals are at risk if not vaccinated.” It highlighted raccoons, bats, foxes, skunks, otters, bobcats and coyotes as wild animals that especially should be avoided.
New Smyrna Beach Code requires that any dog, cat, ferret or “other animal that might carry or transmit rabies” must be vaccinated against rabies.