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Pet memorial to be built at Davis Islands dog park

By Elizabeth Behrman
Tribune staff
Published: August 30, 2013

DAVIS ISLANDS — As city crews continue work on the islands’ dog beach, a non-profit group that “adopted” the waterfront neighborhood’s dog parks has another project underway.

The Friends of the Davis Islands Dog Parks organization has received the city’s approval to build a pet memorial in the dry dog park near the islands’ boat ramp, said Jennifer Fadal, a founder of the group.

“It should be awesome,” she said.

Park users will be able to buy bricks and plaques and dedicate them in memory of their pets, said Carolyn Bigley, another founder. Not only will the memorial provide a source of funding for the maintenance of the dog park, it also will help to “dress it up,” she said.

“We thought it would add some more prestige to the parks,” Bigley said.

Now that the memorial has city officials’ approval, Bigley and Fadal are waiting to see if the project will be led by the city or Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful.

At that point they will be able to estimate the project’s cost, which Friends of the Davis Islands Dog Parks will fund, Fadal said.

“Things are rolling right along,” she said. “We’re pretty excited.”

Fadal, owner of Wag pet market and boutique, and Bigley, owner of Davis Islands Pet Care, formed the non-profit group earlier this year to help the city maintain the dog park and dog beach on Severn Avenue, at the southern tip of Davis Islands.

City workers closed the dog beach and nearby boat ramp in June as they launched a $273,000 cleanup and upgrade of the area.

The facilities are scheduled to reopen no later than Dec. 1, said Greg Bayor, the city’s parks and recreation director. “We will definitely open it up as soon as we get the go-ahead,” he said.

In addition to installing new landscaping, benches and fencing, the city is adding new sand, an artificial reef and an offshore breakwater at the dog beach. Workers also are clearing away underwater rocks and concrete slabs that dogs and their owners don’t always see when swimming.

The area around the boat ramp will be dredged so boats no longer will scrape the bottom when launching. New fencing, sod and shade structures were installed at the dry dog park on the other side of the ramp.

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Twitter: @LizBehrmanTBO