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Posted on: August 29, 2017

Monroe County Relocating Small Dog Park Out of Respect for Possible Graves Below

higgs small dog park relocation.jpg

At Monroe County’s Higgs Beach, the “small dog park” is being relocated into a fenced-off section of the “big dog” park out of an abundance of caution that there may be possible graves beneath the current small dog park.

The big dog park now is about 51,000 square feet and shaped in an “L.” The County will cordon off about 12,000 square feet of that park to create a new small dog park, with a new gate along Atlantic Boulevard. The water supply will be relocated to facilitate the new small dog park, which will be completed in the next two weeks.

As the plan to relocate Atlantic Boulevard moves forward as part of the Higgs Beach Redevelopment Master Plan, there will be additional changes to the dog parks to accommodate construction. But the road relocation is currently being reviewed by the U.S. Department of Interior as required by a recently discovered federal Land and Water Conservation grant used to develop the property more than 30 years ago.

In 2010, during the master planning process to redevelop Higgs Beach, the County had ground-penetrating radar mapping conducted to search for graves that may still exist in this area based on historical data. 

Under the small dog park and other areas of the park, “anomalies” and “voids” were found that were presumed to be caskets or graves, but it’s not known with certainty if they are. The area also was the site of army barracks during the second World War and used as place to discard debris during construction of the West Martello Fort during the Civil War.

Out of respect for the possibility of graves, the Higgs Beach Master Plan was developed to preserve open green space in the area where the ground-penetrating radar identified the anomalies and voids – and to move the road away from this area.

At the time, redevelopment of the park was expected to move forward quickly. But it has been delayed due to several roadblocks, including complying with that 1984 Land and Water Conservation Grant for $80,000 from the Department of the Interior. That grant requires long-term studies.

“The County has always wanted to be respectful of any possible graves beneath the park by creating contemplative green space in our redesign,” Monroe County Commissioner Heather Carruthers said. “We had hoped to be much further along in the redevelopment process by now. While we may never know with certainty whether graves remain in this area – or if they are graves, whose graves they are – we are taking this step to move the small dog park out of respect. And, we will continue to proceed with respect as the redevelopment moves forward.”

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Monroe County
1100 Simonton Street
Key West FL, 33040