Bayside, right, watches Sam lope back to the group with a tennis ball securely wedged in his mouth.

A group of dog lovers are worried they will be displaced when Marathon’s Oceanfront Park behind City Hall is complete. Where pooches make long, loping runs to retrieve tennis balls on a grassy field will soon be turned into a fitness trail for humans.

“Sometimes we have as many as 20 dogs out here. I’m worried that the fenced dog run will be too small,” said Mike Pinto.

What’s proposed is a 90-foot by 105-foot fenced dog run tucked into the corner of the Oceanfront Park during the third phase of construction to start in the fall. Pinto is asking other dog owners to sign a petition and speak to city council about their needs. He has about 50 signatures and some have sent letters to the City of Marathon.

“We are trying to come up with some type of compromise, but it will be up to the council,” said Community Services Director Debbie London.

London pointed out that Marathon already has a designated dog park, located next to the Rotary Park. Pinto counters that Marathon already has a fitness trail located at the Marathon Community Park.

City Councilman Mike Senmartin has been out to meet with constituents at Oceanfront Park and heard their concerns. He’s urged them to appear at the next council meeting set for Tuesday, April 8.

“They need to speak up,” Senmartin said, “and say what they want.”

In the meantime, locals gather with their dogs at Oceanfront Park behind City Hall as the space is transformed around them.

“Oh, look, here come’s Sasha. She’s about as ball crazy as Sam,” said Pinto. The dogs’ personalities are well known to one another and there’s plenty of socializing, both human and canine. Owners bring their own jugs of water and water bowls that turn into communal property, enjoyed by all.

Jen Shockley and Penelope are also regulars. The pug-ish pooch is a rescue dog from the shelter.

“She’s about seven years old, I think. Prudence was forfeited to the shelter more than once and so she had some behavior issues. Being out here and socializing with the other dogs has been very important,” Shockley said.

Jim Witter brings Shelby to the park. She’s big and friendly and hairy.

“We’ve been coming here for about three years, something like that,” Witter said.


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