Myrtle Beach, S.C., is just one city that has embraced the dog park craze. In December it held a grand opening of its latest, the New Town Bark Park, which has been a hit since “even before construction started,” said Erin O’Hagan, public information specialist for the city of Myrtle Beach.
The park is divided into two separate sections, one for large dogs and one for small dogs. “We have a very healthy mix of both size dogs,” O’Hagan said.
New Town Bark Park is the third dog park in Myrtle Beach. There are also bark parks near The Market Common and Claire Chapin Epps Family YMCA, but this one, as O’Hagan said, “is right smack in the middle. One of the reasons for this park was the redevelopment plan for downtown Myrtle Beach.”
O’Hagan explained that a new disc golf park called Swashbuckler was built across the street from the new bark park’s location to bring more people and more traffic into the area. But it wasn’t being utilized enough, despite lying between a wooded area and the beach. “It’s near a lot of condos and places close enough that people walk through and enjoy everything, and then walk home. So what could we do to entice more people to the area? Dogs!” With this in mind, Myrtle Beach pursued the idea.
The city’s first dog park opened in 2010 or 2011, she said and was a huge hit.
“Myrtle Beach is about 12 miles from tail to tail, and the park was so heavily utilized and the public response so outrageous. Then it was, ‘Let’s open one on the north end.’ When we had the plan and space, we wanted to include all members of the community, including the furry ones. For the most part, it was done by the city, with equal efforts from the public works department and the parks and recreation department. They decided what needed to be taken out and where the fencing would go, and they determined how to connect the parks since they’re not right next to each other. We worked together as a team.”
The dog parks are well-maintained because the city works hand in hand with the community.
“Of course, it’s required that all dogs are picked up after and trash is removed by those who put it there. We provide the trash cans. On top of that, every week we close the parks for three to four hours while our park staff provides routine maintenance. The grass is cut, leaves raked, sidewalks and walkways are cleaned.
“We have a beautiful park, and we want a beautiful park, and this one and the two others need to maintain those standards. Our parks division is very committed, above and beyond whatever we ask,” O’Hagan noted.
The pleasant surroundings make it equally enjoyable for the walkers and observers, too.
Other improvements to the area continue. “Right up the street at Futrell Park, we are building a splash pad for children about a mile and a half away from the dog park and disc golf. We will be completely renovating and replacing old playground equipment and adding a bathroom for the public, because you want that convenience, especially with kids. And you want it just a minute away, not blocks down the street.”
At the grand opening of the New Town Bark Park, several dogs had the chance to enjoy the new space along with some doggie doughnuts. And while the new dog park does not offer food, O’Hagan said there are places within the city that cater to dogs and offer treats. Since the new park opened, “It’s been fun watching everyone, two-legged or four-legged, socialize,” O’Hagan said, “We have 47 miles of multiuse walking and biking trails, and we wanted to give back to the community. We’re not just about tourism. We remember who lives here all the time. We are very committed and rooted deep. And it’s all free – pickleball, disc golf, tennis, the splash pad. It’s for everyone to enjoy, and it’s all within walking, biking or golf-carting range.”