CRANBERRY TWP — The township's popular dog park will be moved to a new location, with other green space in the township being opened up for canine companions to legally enjoy.
The moves are the first step in a new master plan for Cranberry Park North, the public safety training area and public works facility outlined at Thursday's board of supervisors meeting.
Pete Geiss, director of parks and recreation in the township, presented a plan created over the past year by the township's K-9 Connection Committee. The group, made up of about 25 people, was tasked with evaluating ways to increase the amount of pet-friendly space in township parks. Currently, dogs are not allowed in parks other than the designated dog park in Community Park.
Geiss presented the committee's leashed dog area pilot program to be introduced at the North Boundary Disc Golf Course and Nature Trail area.
Signage will be placed at various points throughout the park designating where dogs are allowed and where they are not. Additionally, volunteers will paint paw prints on paths in the park where dogs are permitted.
Parking lots at the veterans memorial and near the Penn Power shelter will be designated as dog-friendly, Geiss said. Signs outlining rules and boundaries will be placed throughout, and a carry-in, carry-out rule will be in place for animal waste.
Part of the plan also calls for an ambassador program in which volunteers will be trained and on the trail to explain rules to dog owners. Geiss said the goal is education, not confrontation.
“If they see people that aren't getting the message, they can call 911,” he said.
Those who have dogs in an unauthorized area or are unwilling to follow rules are subject to a $35 fine, which is enforced by police.
Jerry Andree, township manager, said finding a balance between those who did not want dogs in township parks and those who did was challenging, but the plan serves all interests.
The change gives the township three dog-friendly areas, including the Brush Creek Trail Extension off Commonwealth Drive, two miles of trails in North Boundary and the dog park in Community Park.
That park will be moved and enhanced as part of an overall master plan for property adjacent to Community Park that was presented Thursday.
It coincides with the acquisition of property next to the township public works facility. Andree said the 15.49-acre property was donated to the township about a year ago and came at a time when demands on the public works facility and surrounding area were coming to a head.
“It paralleled the demands on that space,” he said.
The property around the public works facility includes a public safety training facility, police shooting range and outdoor storage areas.
Cranberry Township Volunteer Fire Chief Dave Gallagher said expansion of the public safety area would include creating a new access point to the public safety building as well as a new road network for the entire area.
The facility itself would see an expansion. Gallagher noted it is in high demand, with more than 200 events scheduled this year alone.
Gallagher said officials also seek a residential training structure for firefighters to complement the existing commercial training structure. Safety improvements and noise abatement will be sought at the shooting range, he said.
“You're looking at a world-class training facility here in Cranberry,” he said of the improvements.
At the public works facility, director Jason Dailey said a recent acquisition of salt at a low cost exposed the need for additional storage. The donated property would be leveled and made into a 5-acre storage pad to help relieve the need for outside storage.
Additionally, parking would be added, and the former public works building would be demolished in lieu of expansion of garage space and administrative offices. Updated signage would also be put in place, Dailey said.
To allow for the expansion and permit earthwork, the current dog park below the training center will be lost, Geiss said. He noted the space is “not the best piece of land” as it has drainage issues, and does not provide much shade. He said while the K-9 committee has worked to find solutions, they have been temporary.
“We're sticking Band-Aids on a gaping wound,” he said.