Committee chooses parking lot in Lyndale Farmstead Park for dog area

After 12 meetings, long debates and an outpouring of community feedback, an 18-member citizens committee selected a parking lot in Lyndale Farmstead Park as their preferred site for an off-leash dog area in Southwest.

The group also offered as a secondary recommendation an area of land near the Theodore Wirth Home in the same park. The group’s decision, made Sept. 12, is only a recommendation; the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will have the final say.

Several committee members said the parking lot site, or “site 32” was the “best of the worst” of the final three they had to choose from, but because they were determined to get a dog park somewhere in the area, they selected it knowing it was most likely to gain Park Board approval.

“Site 32 is the only site that doesn’t seem to have so much opposition to it,” said group member Jonathan Lee.

Of the three sites under consideration, site 32 was the smallest, most expensive and, according to most, the ugliest.

But that doesn’t mean there isn’t potential, said group member David Brauer.

“People from this community can turn it into something great. If they don’t turn it into something great in the first year, maybe it will happen in the fifth year. If it doesn’t happen in the fifth year, maybe it will happen in the 25th year,” he said. “But I can see this site being beautiful some day.”

Site 32 is 0.64 acres and would require the Park Board to tear up a parking lot at the Southside Operations Center and build a fence. It would cost between $96,000 and $185,000, and the group requested that the Park Board at least make the minimum investment.

The group, at its Sept. 12 meeting, quickly eliminated a potential site on the Minnehaha Parkway near Pleasant Avenue. That site was the subject of most community pushback, as neighbors pleaded with group members not to choose it because of parking, traffic and bicycle safety concerns. Some argued it would pull down tax values of their homes.

The group’s secondary recommendation, near the Theodore Wirth Home, concerned some group members because of its proximity to the historic home, the sledding hill and the Lakewood Cemetery. Half of the members supported that site, while 17 out of 18 supported the parking lot site.

Matt Perry was the only objector, arguing that all three sites were lousy.  Site 32, he said, will be problematic because of water drainage issues that will cost the Park Board lots of money to maintain over the years.

“I’m not willing to just do anything,” Perry said. “I want to make sure it’s a great site for a great park