Dog owners press case for pooch park

Mount Pleasant Police Cpl. R.C. Driggers III (left) stops Elaine Rawls' dogs, Reeses (brown) and Ms. Maddie, at the Town Hall door on Tuesday. Rawls and other dog owners showed up at the Town Council meeting to show their support for a dog park at Memoria

MOUNT PLEASANT — It felt and looked like the dog days outside of Town Hall on Tuesday, where dog park supporters gathered after being barred by police from entering council chambers to express support for a canine play area at Memorial Waterfront Park.

Undeterred, the demonstrators took their pooches to a window and held them up for Town Council members to see. Police weren't amused and told them so.

But the crowd of about a dozen people who showed up with their canines weren't disappointed that they didn't get an audience with council.

"I was just hoping that we would get media coverage," Elaine Rawls said.

"I wasn't expecting to be able to get in," Dennis Blyth said.

What they expected was council's attention to a matter that they said is near and dear to their hearts. They want 4.5 acres at the rear of Memorial Waterfront Park to include a dog park.

"Just being out here is important. It shows that you care," Councilman Gary Santos said.

Several of the dog park supporters said they signed up to address the council later during a public comment period while a friend tended to their dogs outside.

The proponents of a dog park fear that the council will develop 4.5 acres at the rear of the park instead of using it for green space, including a 1-acre dog park.

The state Department of Transportation offered the town 22 acres for free but required that the land be used for the park. The council voted last month to explore purchasing the 4.5 acres, which would open the land to other uses. Ideas such as a corporate meeting center or a performance venue have been floated.

Memorial Waterfront Park, including a 1,200-foot pier, a visitor's center, a war memorial and sweetgrass center, is scheduled to open on Memorial Day weekend 2009.