James City County will open an off-leash area for dogs at Jamestown Beach Event Park on May 1.
The county’s Parks and Recreation Department will give the idea a trial run at the park before potentially expanding the off-leash program in the future. Jamestown Beach Event Park will be the only county park where an off-leash area will be established this year, according to a county news release announcing the program Tuesday.
The off-leash area trial program is a notably scaled down operation compared to the program proposal pitched to the Board of Supervisors at its regular monthly board meeting in March.
The decision to limit the trial to one location was due to feedback from the Board of Supervisors and a parks and recreation advisory commission, Parks and Recreation Director John Carnifax said in an email.
Carnifax, noting the national trend toward off-leash areas and interest among residents in the idea, suggested opening off-leash areas in four county parks for the trial run. But most supervisors balked at the scale, saying it seemed too tall an order to keep tabs on the program and any complications that could arise from having dogs run free if off-leash areas were set up as widely as staff proposed.
The Board of Supervisors approved a county code amendment to allow the creation of off-leash areas in county parks at that meeting.
The off-leash area will be about 150-by-300 feet and free to use. It will be unfenced, with the corners of the space marked with fencing to show the boundaries of the off-leash area. The off-leash area will be located near the park’s entrance on Jamestown Road. It will be closed during special events held at the park, according to the release.
Besides a smaller scale, the proposal is essentially unchanged. Dogs in the unleashed area must be at least 4 months old and be up to date on vaccinations, among other requirements. No breeds are prohibited from the off-leash area.
Starting in May, the county will offer the means to provide feedback, such as a survey, about the off-leash area on its website, according to the release. The trial will run until October.
Jack Jacobs, 757-298-6007, firstname.lastname@example.org, @jajacobs_