Parks update: Dog park decision looms

Dog park decision looms

Members of a citizen’s group tasked with finding a site for a dog park in Southwest Minneapolis say they’ll likely make a recommendation in September on one of three sites they’ve identified as potential locations.

The 23-member Dog Park Citizens Advisory Committee has met 11 times since March and narrowed a list of over 30 potential sites down to three.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board drafted design plans and cost estimates for all three sites. At a minimum, a new dog park will cost $88,000, and could get as expensive as $193,000, depending on the site and infrastructure.

The Park Board already has set aside $32,500 for a dog park in the Sixth District — the only district in the city that doesn’t boast an off-leash area for dogs to run.

Commissioner Brad Bourn (Sixth District) said the Park Board should have money in next year’s budget to pay for the dog park construction. The city’s seven existing dog parks generated $207,000 in permit sales in 2009 even though Bourn said it costs only $50,000 combined to maintain them each year.

Bourn said he expects a new park in the Sixth District to generate an additional $5,000–$10,000 a year, based on Park Board records of dogs in Southwest Minneapolis zip codes.

“When we’re looking at the revenue challenges we’re facing, we have to make these capital improvements that are cost-positive,” Bourn said.

While the CAC has the power to recommend a site, the authority to make a final selection rests with the Park Board. The CAC meets at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 12 at the Lynnhurst Recreation Center.

Here’s a look at the three sites under consideration:

Site no. 1

Location: Lyndale Farmstead Park, immediately south of the Southside Operations Center along Kings Highway
Size: Two options, 0.71 acres or 0.97 acres
Base cost: $112,000
With added amenities: $167,000

Pros: Big, beautiful space; close to other amenities such as a recreation center and baseball field; dog park would add safety because the site isn’t easily visible for patrols.

Concerns: Site is close to sledding hill and the park’s fence may be safety concern for children; the land is part of the Theodore Wirth Home property and is thus on the National Register of Historic Places; it’s a quiet area, and some would like it kept that way; it has steep slopes; a dog park might displace an area used frequently by children; it could interfere with Movies in the Park.

Site no. 7

Location: Just south of Minnehaha Creek and east of Pleasant Avenue
Size: 0.94 acres
Base cost: $88,000
With added amenities: $138,000

Pros: Big, shady area; won’t interrupt park programming; exposure and access from the Grand Rounds

Concerns: Many neighbors have complained about its proximity to a quiet, residential area; they’re also concerned about parking and traffic along Minnehaha Parkway; dog waste could run into the creek; existing bike and pedestrian trails would need to be moved to go around the off-leash area

Site no. 32

Location: Lyndale Farmstead Park, parking lot of Southside Operations Center
Size: 0.64 acres
Base price: $126,000
With added amenities: $193,000

Pros: Converts a paved parking lot into green parkland; 75 percent of surveyed residents say they like or don’t mind the idea; Bourn said this site has had the least amount of pushback from the community; does not interrupt programming.

Concerns: Most expensive option; would required Park Board to move equipment; a pond in the area would need to be fenced off and vegetation planted to prevent runoff of dog waste; no shade; parking area susceptible to floods.