by Mike Parks
Mint Hill residents want a dog park. They also wouldn’t say no to a place to play lacrosse, some room for yoga, special wellness classes, better connectivity between parks, neighborhoods and greenways and a parks and recreation department.
But they also don’t really want to pay for any of this, if at all possible.
Mint Hill recently surveyed residents trying to get a feel for what they’re looking for out of the town’s two parks: Park on Wilgrove and Park on Fairview. But of the 197 people who took the survey over two months, roughly 60 percent said they had not often or ever visited Fairview, and more than 76 percent said they not often or ever visited Wilgrove.
So, the survey may work more as a means to find out why people aren’t going to the town’s parks.
“I feel like the people who filled out the survey weren’t necessarily the people who are using the parks,” said Ron Freeman, chairman of the town’s parks and recreation board. “I agree (that) the parks are heavily used, and the point of the survey was to see if we are missing something.”
The majority of people said they feel both parks are safe and clean, and many said they planned on visiting the two parks in the future. But at Fairview, the majority of people said they never use almost any of the options offered at the park. The only thing frequently used by the respondents were the park’s walking trail, while many wish there were better walking opportunities at nearby Wilgrove.
Though the survey didn’t specifically ask about it, a number of respondents used the write-in portion to call for a town dog park. One person wrote: “I feel there is a big need for a dog park in Mint Hill. I am tired of driving down to McAlpine Park in Matthews/Charlotte to let my dog run free!”
Without a dog park, some respondents said people have taken to letting their animals run freely at Fairview and Wilgrove, possibly endangering people.
“There have been multiple times our dog, who is always on a short lead, has been attacked/bothered by dogs off lead and the owners get angry if you mention this rule to them,” another respondent wrote.
A dog park has been discussed for a while in Mint Hill, though officials say there just isn’t any cash to pay for one. Town commissioners gave resident Jean Bonner permission more than a year ago to begin fundraising for a dog park. An update on fundraising efforts wasn’t available by press time.
“We have looked into doing a dog park, everyone on the committee agrees that doing a dog park would be a great idea,” Freeman said. “We’ve talked about doing one and where to put it, but (there’s) no money available.”
Freeman, and people in the survey, said the land around the public safety communications tower at Fairview could be home to a dog park if the town could afford one.
The survey also indicates people would like to see a town parks and recreation department formed to organize and offer different services. But less than 20 percent said Mint Hill should consider raising property taxes to pay for it. Instead, people say the town should seek grants or business sponsorships to pay for such projects.
With surveys in hand, Freeman said he now wants to figure out what the residents who do use the parks would like to see from the town. Mint Hill will likely conduct some surveys at Fairview and Wilgrove this summer to get more results, he said.