New park could help with tourism

FAIRMONT – The proposed dog park in Fairmont has the potential of getting thousands of canine visitors per year – and that’s just from out-of-towners.

Jason Subbert, general manager of Torgerson Properties Inc. in Fairmont said guests at the four hotels – Holiday Inn, Super 8, Hampton Inn and Comfort Inn – could easily generate that many visits to the dog park.

“We have about 70,000 people stay here every year,” Subbert said. “Probably 10 percent of our guests staying here have a pet with them, and 90 percent of the pets we have are dogs.”

All four hotels on the Torgerson campus accept pets and have designated pet exercise areas. But Subbert says a dog park would be an enormous community asset.

Supporters of the dog park are trying to raise $15,000 for fencing and benches. The city has agreed to maintain the park, just like other community parks, Subbert said.

“There’s a leash ordinance [in Fairmont],” says Stephanie Bushian, Fairmont Convention & Visitors Bureau director. She believes having a controlled environment like a dog park will provided an added incentive for travelers to stop in Fairmont.

“Striving to get people off at this [interstate] exit” would get a boost “if we had some of these amenities,” she said.

Bushian noted that the proposed area, near the Fairmont Aquatic Park, would enable hotel guests to follow a simple route from the Torgerson campus. That route, down State Street, would lead them by gas stations, eating establishments, grocery stores and retail businesses.

Subbert cited AAA statistics that estimate that each year more than 62 million guests stay in hotels that accept pets. He hopes a dog park will prompt them to make Fairmont one of their stops.