Although pet owners can already use the fenced bark park, city officials will host a grand opening at 10 a.m. Saturday. Councilwoman Annette Lewis, whose ward encompasses Wildwood, will officiate.
Lewis plans to bring her dachshund, Beauregard, to the event, which will also include a contest for the city’s best dog model, to be featured in city advertising.
The pooch playfield encompasses 1.5 acres of the 28-acre Wildwood Park, and includes one area for small dogs and another for larger dogs. The city spent about $25,000 for fencing, benches, trashcans and site preparation at the park, which was completed in March. But if you bring your dog, bring water and a bowl, too, as the park does not have watering spots for dogs.
The city’s first pooch park, in Lewis Park on Campbell Hill Street, opened in 2007 on a converted ball field.
But Wildwood’s mature vegetation offers “a different feel for the dog,” said Mike Gabler, the city’s recreation services manager.
“It’s more of a woodsy, natural environment,” he said. But owners still must clean up after their dogs. Those who don’t can be fined $500, Gabler said. Rottweilers and pit bulls are prohibited from using the dog parks.
For years, Wildwood and the nearby Burruss Nature Park had been the scene of illicit sex activities. Last year, the city cleared out a wall of vegetation that shielded the Burrus parking lot from South Cobb Drive, installed security cameras and began police patrols and monitoring.
The city also installed a mountain bike path and now, the bark park.
Marietta Police Chief Dan Flynn said he was unaware of any problems at the two updated parks.
“With all of (the changes), I believe we have deterred the public-sex crowd from Wildwood and Burruss, but we will certainly have to continue to monitor it to keep it safe for the general public,” Flynn said. “At one point, we heard that the old crowd moved to a park in Acworth.”
Mayor Steve Tumlin said, “It doesn’t seem to be the troubled spot to the extent that it used to be.”
Last year, candidate Tumlin said he would like to consider swapping Burruss and Wildwood parks to the county, in exchange for the county’s Fair Oaks Park near Powder Springs Street.
Tumlin argued that Burruss and Wildwood are out of the way for many Mariettans, while Fair Oaks Park is bordered by the city and could be better utilized.
But Tumlin said recently that such a swap would require permission from the federal government, which used to own Wildwood and Burruss. Getting that permission could take years, he said.
Lewis is opposed to trading the parks to the county, she said, because it’s the largest area of green space in the city and should be preserved for future generations.
“It’s a good place just to be close to nature,” she said.