After 13 years of debate, a Minneapolis parks committee has finally chosen a site to build an off-leash dog area in the Park Board’s Sixth District.
The Park Board’s Planning Committee on Nov. 22 took a citizen’s advisory committee recommendation and chose what is now a parking lot in Lyndale Farmstead Park near the Park Board’s Southside Operations Center — known by neighbors as “Site 32.”
Only Commissioner Bob Fine (at-large) voted against that site, but judging by comments from the other eight commissioners, Site 32 should pass easily when it gets to the full Park Board.
Public Engagement Manager Jennifer Ringold said she expects, pending full board approval, that site improvements will go out to bid by spring 2012 so that construction can begin in the summer.
The Park Board has already approved $132,500 for the project. Initial Park Board estimates have the total cost pegged somewhere between $96,000 and $185,000, depending on how fancy it gets.
Commissioner Brad Bourn (Sixth District) said he’s already working to start fundraising efforts that would provide for amenities above the $132,5000 threshold. He said improvements could be made in phases after the initial construction.
Bourn applauded the decision, though he recognized that Lyndale Farmstead was not the perfect place, but the place that represented the best compromise.
“We met a lot of needs and really protected a lot of things that needed protecting,” said Bourn, referring to another proposed site in Lyndale Farmstead that many community members felt would encroach on the historic nature of the Theodore Wirth Home.
But for many of those in attendance, the decision was music to their ears.
David Brauer was on the most recent citizen’s committee that recommended the Lyndale Farmstead site, and his wife Sarah Duniway was part of group charged with finding a site 13 years ago. Both said they were happy with the site and plan to take their dog there frequently.
The big question now is when and where the Park Board will find it’s next site.
Two years ago, a group of mostly Kingfield, Regina and Bryant neighbors approached the Park Board with hopes of building a dog area in Martin Luther King Jr. Park. That proposal fell through a year ago after strong opposition from the black community.
For many of them, the Lyndale Farmstead site is welcome addition, but isn’t within walking distance like MLK park would have been.
As a part of the Park Board’s resolution to approve Site 32, it also will create a master plan for Minneapolis dog parks in 2013 or 2014.
That means a dog park in south central Minneapolis — in the neighborhoods surrounding 35W — might not happen for at least a few years.
“We still don’t have many dog parking in the middle part of the city,” said Fine, who also raised concerns over drainage at Site 32.