By Randy Arrington
STANLEY, Nov. 17 — The Town of Stanley may once again be adding to its park amenities after deciding to move forward with preliminary plans to add a dog park within its existing Hawksbill Park.
Members of the Stanley Council decided to further explore the proposal brought forth by Page County resident Don Feliciano at last Wednesday’s meeting, especially after the New Jersey native offered to pay for the entire project.
“I’m going to pay for your dog park, if you will build it,” Feliciano told the council. “I don’t want to build a Roll Royce of a dog park…or a Chevy…but I could settle for a Cadillac.”
Nearly 100 counties in Virginia have dog parks and there are more than 1,300 licensed dogs in Page County, according to Feliciano’s presentation. He made the same pitch to the Luray Council this fall, but drew little interest over concerns about liability and continued maintenance voiced by council members. Feliciano’s efforts to reach out to the county and private interests also resulted in no direct interest to build a dog park.
The Town of Shenandoah has a dog park located at Denver Avenue and Ninth Street, but Feliciano says the park’s leash requirement takes away from the true purpose of dog parks — to allow dogs to off-leash. The initial plan at Stanley’s Hawksbill Park is to fence-off a 2-acre parcel with fencing at least 5 to 6 feet high, in order to allow for dogs to be off-leash. Currently, there is no public facility like this in Page County, while several dog parks are available in surrounding localities.
Dog park consultant Marilyn Glasser made the drive from New York to attend last Wednesday’s Stanley Council meeting and speak on behalf of the project at Feliciano’s request. Glasser has designed more than 50 dog parks in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, and has written a definitive novel on how to design dog parks. She has offered her skills and knowledge for the Stanley project.
Both Feliciano and Glasser made a site visit to Hawksbill Park last Wednesday afternoon prior to the council meeting with Town Manager Terry Pettit. After seeing the proposed site, Glasser recommended a design that would create three separate sections within the dog park — a gated entrance area, that then goes through gates to either a large dog or small dog section. Water fountains, benches, trash cans, signage and a dispenser for “poop” bags are other features that will have to be considered.
Early cost estimates range from $40,000 to $70,000 to cover planning, designs, permitting and construction. That portion of expenses would be covered by Feliciano. Ongoing maintenance would be picked up by the town, and any liability issues would fall under the town’s insurance policy.
Noting that a 2-acre park would be a large dog park, and that a larger park would mean more fencing — the biggest expense of the project — Feliciano didn’t flinch.
“I’m okay with that…I’m going to pay for it, and I want 2 acres,” he said. “Two-acre parks are nice.”
Prior to meeting with Stanley officials, Feliciano initially went to Page County’s Director of Economic Development and Tourism Nina Fox and asked for help. At last Wednesday’s meeting, Fox said Stanley came to mind for a dog park because of its central location in the county. She noted that dog parks “improve the quality of life” and are an added attraction for tourists as well.
Fox also said the project could get some free help with design work from the Virginia Tech Community Design Assistance Center in Blacksburg.
“I just want you to be happy,” Feliciano told the council. “This is a feel-good project.”
The Town of Stanley will still have to go through several steps before the dog park can become a reality, including approval of a special use permit from the Page County Board of Supervisors.
Feliciano wants to name the facility “Bailey’s Legacy Park” after one of his dogs who helped him through a difficult time following an accident in which he was hit by a truck while walking his dog.
In other business at its Nov. 10 meeting, the Stanley Council:
• Unanimously voted to adopt a new short-term rental ordinance for the Town. There were no speakers at a public hearing on the issue prior to the meeting. The new ordinance defines short-term rentals, requires a business license and a property management plan, provides parking guidelines, and outlines the land use under different residential zoning classifications (by-right versus special use permit).
• Announced that utility (water/sewer) cut-offs will resume in January. Town Manager Terry Pettit estimated that cut-offs could average about 80 to 90 per month, but the Town has been “working with folks” delinquent on their bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. Water bills are due on the 10th of each month and customers are subject to cut-off on the 25th if the Town has not received payment.
• Unanimously voted to pay Christmas bonuses to Town employees in December of $1,500 for full-time staff and $500 for part-time.
• Heard a presentation from a vendor on placing lights along the walking trail at Ed Good Park. The vendor left brochures and options for poles and lamps costing between $800 to $1,500 each. Supply chain issues would put the project at least 12 to 14 weeks out once the council moves forward, but decisions still need to be made on style, type, mounting, height and placement for each pole and each lamp.
• Heard a presentation from resident Christi Baker about placing veteran banners along Main Street mounted on utility poles. Baker’s idea has either families or local businesses sponsoring each banner to highlight their veteran, with the Town of Stanley offering staff help to put up and take down the banners on certain occasions. Donations are being sought for the brackets to hold the banners. Baker saw the idea in Edinburg and Mount Jackson over in Shenandoah County and wanted to bring it to Stanley. At last Wednesday’s meeting, Baker was seeking a letter of support from the Town so she could begin ordering banners. Baker plans to coordinate the program and store the banners at her home when not in use. Any veteran with a Stanley address is eligible to be featured on one of the banners.
• Decided to plan a site visit this week at the 10-lot subdivision on Park Road being proposed by Greg Buracker. The final plat for the project is ready, according to Tyler Austin of Racey Engineering, and the landowner is working to correct drainage issues on the property. Buracker plans to sell “turn-key” lots ready to build with water/sewer hook-ups available.
• Approved a one-year advertising contract with Page Valley News for $2,080 to sponsor the “Stanley” page and promote local events on the local news website. The one-year term runs with the calendar year, beginning Jan. 1.
• Heard that the Town Manager has signed the contract with Quarles to purchase the building behind town hall for a new police headquarters and town museum. A $10,000 deposit has been sent to their attorney and closing on the property should take place in the next few weeks.
• Unanimously approved a $500 donation to the Page County Free Clinic.
• Set the Town of Stanley’s Christmas banquet for employees for 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 8 and pushed the council’s December meeting back to the following Wednesday, Dec. 15.
• Announced that the Town of Stanley’s Christmas Parade will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 4. After the parade, residents can gather at Ed Good Park for food, drinks and fun.