Staff are still researching the cost of building the park, and they are expected to report their findings to the Chapel Hill Town Council on March 26.
Sonna Loewenthal, Chapel Hill assistant town manager, said Chapel Hill, like the rest of North Carolina, will be squeezed by the state's budget deficit, and no one is sure yet what this and next year's budget constraints will be.
The state is expected to keep some of the town's funds this year and might cut Chapel Hill's state revenue by as much as $700,000 for next year.
"We'll have trouble keeping some old programs running, and new programs will be under great scrutiny," Loewenthal said.
At the Town Council meeting Feb. 12, no one opposed building an area for leash-free dog exercise at one of five parks in Chapel Hill. Two residents, who took the floor at the meeting, spoke in support of the proposed park.
Even some residents who did not attend the meeting said they support the proposal.
"Everybody's got to have a place to walk their dogs," said Jayne Gregory, who lives on Kenmore Road near Cedar Falls Park. "It sounds like a good idea to me."
The possible locations for the dog park include three existing parks -- Homestead, Community Center and Cedar Falls. Two other parks that will be built later, Southern Community Park and Meadowmont Park, are other options for the Town Council.
Though no residents showed up at last week's Council meeting to voice opposition, council member Flicka Bateman said the Town Council received two e-mails criticizing the possible placement of the dog parks near residents' homes.
But, Bateman also said the purpose of the park is to give dog owners a safe, convenient place to give their dogs exercise.
"That's the whole idea, as long as they're fenced in," she said of the park's proximity to homes.
Chapel Hill leash law states that dogs, when not confined, must be on a leash within town limits. Presently, the closest place for local dog owners to legally unleash their dogs is at Anderson Community Park in Carrboro.
Gregory said she is wary that a fenced dog park would be detrimental to the appearance of the area where it is placed.
"What I'd like to know is if they're thinking about cutting trees," Gregory said. "That would be a little disconcerting."
Bateman also said the issue of appearance is being taken into concern.
The location chosen for the dog park will determine the type of fencing used. If the park is put at Homestead, more decorative fencing will be used because there are several driveways in view of the park, Bateman said.
If the park is placed at Cedar Falls, where a chain-link fence is already used at the baseball fields, chain-link fencing would likely also be used for the dog park.
Cost will be a large factor in the location the Town Council chooses. It will depend both on the site and size of the park, Loewenthal said.
Bateman said the Town Council is also still debating the height of fencing to use for the dog park, which has a large bearing on the cost.
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