Park Board vote puts an end to proposed dog park at MLK

After months of passionate debate that culminated in angry outbursts in January, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board last night eliminated the possibility of an off-leash dog park at Martin Luther King Jr. Park.

The nine-member board voted unanimously to find a new spot for a dog park in the Sixth Park District before this summer. The board voted to create a 19-member Citizens Advisory Committee that will choose one of three possible sites.

— In Lyndale Park on 1.13 acres of land just north of the Peace Garden.

— In Lyndale Park on .91 acres of land where there is currently a parking lot near Lake Harriet.

— On 0.42 acres of land in Lyndale Farmstead Park where there is currently a parking lot.

The Park Board, in its resolution, asked that the CAC “identify and incorporate other stakeholders in the public participation process.”

“The CAC is encouraged to look for underrepresented neighborhoods, cultural, and socioeconomic groups who may not feel engaged in the process,” the resolution stated.

A group of mostly black and mostly elderly citizens have protested the idea of putting an off-leash dog area in a park dedicated to King’s legacy. Many of them attended last night’s meeting.

Absent were Kingfield Dog Park Task Force members who have worked for two years to find a site for an off-leash dog area in their district. They believed that putting a dog park at King Park would have brought the community together and used space that was a common place for drug deals and prostitution and turned it into a gathering place.  

Brad Bourn, the Sixth District Commissioner, wrote the resolution. The resolution asked that the park be opened in 2011. The Park Board has already set aside $32,500 for an off-leash dog area in the district. The Sixth has a high density of permitted dogs but is the only district without a dog park.

The Resolution requires that the CAC meet with the Park Board 45 days after its first meeting.