VOLCANO - A nonprofit volunteer organization is working to make Mountwood Park the home of the first off-leash dog park in Wood County.
"There's a big need for one in this area. Dog parks are as much for the owners as for the dogs," said Peggy Squires, president of Friends of Mountwood. "It would be a great place for people to socialize, and it would provide a safe environment for dogs to exercise and play off-leash."
Fairmont, Charleston and Morgantown have off-leash dog parks, but Wood and surrounding counties have none.
Friends of Mountwood has raised around $2,000 for the half-acre dog park, a project that could cost up to $8,000.
Poles, gates and about 1,000 feet of fencing were donated by the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport. Chain-link fittings, a water hydrant and more poles are needed before the project can get under way.
The grounds committee of the Mountwood Park Board approved the proposed location of the dog park, next to a parking lot near Shelter One, but park officials are still debating the suitability of the spot.
"A few people are second-guessing the location, mainly because there is a concern about it being too close to the road," said Mary Beth Held, marketing and events coordinator. "The location is also in one of the park's most popular areas, and would be right next to our most popular shelter. I think there's a question about whether it would compromise that location."
Squires said she wants the dog park to be wheelchair-accessible, which requires a flat piece of land. Access to a parking lot and restrooms also is important, she said.
Despite the uncertainty on location, park officials welcome the addition of a dog park.
"I think everyone thinks it's a great idea. There seems to be a lot of followers, and dog owners do seem to flock to these parks for social purposes," Held said.
This summer, a survey given by the Humane Society of Parkersburg showed a great interest among the public for the construction of a dog park, Held said.
Squires said she hopes to begin construction in the spring.
"This has been a goal of Friends of Mountwood for several years," she said. "It would really benefit the entire county, and surrounding counties too."