Amherst County residents can expect to soon have a new place to bring their pets in the form of a planned dog park in Madison Heights.
Sara Lu Christian, director of recreation and parks, said plans are moving forward for a dog park within half of a 3-acre site directly behind the former school on Phelps Road in Madison Heights, which is under construction as newly renovated apartments.
The site is called Seminole Park but hasn’t been used for years. With a donation from Waukeshaw Development, Inc., the company transforming the former school into housing units, the department plans to revitalize the park and add a playground, picnic tables and shelters, Christian said.
The Amherst County Board of Supervisors also approved the use of federal stimulus money to offset expenses of COVID-19 to construct new restrooms at several county parks, including Seminole.
Christian said the dog park would be a first for the county’s seven parks, including Seminole, and it would also include a jogging trail around its perimeter.
“I think it’s a good amenity for the Madison Heights area,” Christian said.
The dog park would be fenced in so residents can leave their dogs off a leash and interact with other canines.
“We’re expecting dog owners to clean up after themselves,” Christian said. “It’s a place for dogs to get out and roam.”
The dog park would be located on a baseball field that has been used in the past for practices, she said.
“It’s been neglected and not used for some time,” Christian said of the field. “This is going to bring the property there back to life.”
The site was named after Seminole Elementary School, which closed 29 years ago with the opening of Madison Heights Elementary School, according to Christian, and this year began renovation to become 41 new market-rate apartments.
“It’s going to accommodate the apartment complex well,” Christian said of the park project.
Dave McCormack, owner of Waukeshaw Development, said the company has offered to put a fence at the park and help with other improvements.
“We’re going to sponsor it,” he said, adding the company plans to give in the $15,000 range.
“We’re just trying to put that park into use,” McCormack said. “We’re trying to improve the community we come into. To us that matters a lot.”
The company in the past decade has transformed a similar historic structure in the town of Bedford into apartments and also is renovating a former mill in Amherst into a restaurant and brewery and now operates the Winton country club and golf property in northern Amherst County.
McCormack said the company is constantly considering ways during its historic renovation projects to improve areas just outside its property lines.
“It’s a quality of life thing,” he said of investing into the park. “It’s really a community asset. We want to bring it back.”
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