Long-awaited dog park coming to St. Helena
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 12:29

Willow Spring hosts third dog park in county

by Ben Boehl

    Dundalk is getting a dog park. Barry F. Williams, director of Baltimore County Recreation and Parks, confirmed that a new dog park will be built at the site of St. Helena Park, 300 Willow Spring Road.
 “The community’s first priority was to get a dog park, and that’s what [we are giving them],” Williams said.
    Among the members of the community who fought for the park were St. Helena Neighborhood Association president George Wischhusen and his wife Mary.
    “I was shocked and tickled to death,” Mary Wischhusen said.
    The St. Helena county group and the city-based St. Helena Community Association have been trying to get a dog park in  St. Helena over the past 10 years.

Mary Wischhusen explained that people have dogs and need a place to take their dogs for recreation. She added that no one wants a dog wandering around the neighborhoods or at a public park. Now the dogs will have a place to play.
    “I don’t have a dog, but I know that dogs need a place to go,” she said.
    The dog park will take the place of the old tennis and basketball courts, which were demolished last Monday to make way for the new park. The playground still stands and is set to remain inside the dog park.   
    “The tennis and basketball courts were old and needed to be replaced,” Williams said. He added that it’s unclear if new basketball and tennis courts will be built at a nearby location. 
    Mary Wischhusen doubts the basketball and tennis courts will be rebuilt in the area because they were never used and became an eyesore filled with graffiti.
    “No one was using the courts. We keep putting up new nets on the basketball courts and they were gone the next day,” she said.
    Shirley Gregory of St. Helena Community Association credits the Wischhusens as the driving force behind trying to get a dog park in St. Helena. She agrees that not only were the basketball and tennis courts outdated, but the area was becoming a hiding place for drug usage among teenagers.
    Now, the new dog park will be a welcome addition  to St. Helena.
    “It (St. Helena Park) is an ideal spot for a dog park,” she  said. “The idea has been well-received by the community itself.”
    Gregory believes that St. Helena got the park to “make up” for Baltimore County eliminating the Heritage Trail, which would have connected historical Dundalk to Canton.
    She is tired of seeing improvements to communities all over the county, expect for Dundalk.
    “We are getting it as an apology,” she explained “The whole thing came about because the Heritage Trail got cut from the budget.”
    According to the Baltimore County government website, this will be the third dog park in the county, joining Paw Point at Robert E. Lee Park near Falls Road by the city-county line and The Baltimore Animal Recreation Center (B.A.R.C.) Park at Hannah More Park in Reisterstown.
    The Wischhusens also give credit to Jordan Hadfield, who headed the Dundalk Renaissance Corp.’s Main Street Project and later was a candidate for state Senate.
    “Jordan Hadfield tried to get us a dog park. He did a lot to help us,” Wischhusen recalled.
    The dog park is expected to open in October.