Dog park for Kingfield takes another step back

A group of concerned residents calling themselves MLK-CIA (Citizens In Action) convinced the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to further delay the possible construction of an off-leash dog park at MLK Park in the Kingfield neighborhood.

The Park Board was scheduled to vote on a resolution Wednesday night that would have created a citizens advisory committee (CAC) tasked with choosing a site for a dog park in the Park Board’s sixth district, which covers much of Southwest Minneapolis.

But MLK-CIA members met with some Park Board commissioners prior to the meeting because they were concerned the CAC makeup would be unfair. The Park Board’s Planning Committee selected 24 people or organizations from the community — Park Board members, City Council members, neighborhood association boards, and non-profit organizations — which would then appoint one person to sit on the CAC.

MLK-CIA members said they felt that more organizations that represented minority groups should be included in the appointments. The group is concerned that building a dog park on a site dedicated to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is disrespectful. Further, they felt the park space should be used by children, not dogs.

About 15 people used the Park Board’s public input period to speak out against the dog park. A couple others spoke in favor of the dog park, citing it as a potential place to build a strong sense of community.

Sixth District Commission Brad Bourn said he was approached by the MLK-CIA and after hearing their concerns asked Board President John Erwin to remove the CAC resolution.

“It was fair for people to have those questions, so we pulled (the resolution) off,” Bourn said.

Bourn said he has asked the MLK-CIA group and the group of Kingfield residents supporting a dog park to meet and come up with their own way of appointing CAC members. He expects the groups to meet within the next month.

Community members from both sides are meeting at MLK Park tonight at 6:30 p.m. to discuss ways to best honor King’s legacy.