(UPDATED) Dog Park Costs Grow As Decision Draws Near
Final recommendation expected Sept. 12.
Corrected 5:15 p.m. Aug. 16, 2011: This story originally misidentified David Brauer as Interim Executive director of the Community Advisory Committee and misidentified Site 32 as being located next to the historic Theo Wirth House. This story also originally misspelled Jennifer Ringold's name.
The end could be in sight for the long saga of the 6th District Dog Park Community Advisory Committee (CAC). According to group member David Brauer, there's a good chance next month's meeting could result in a decision on which location to suggest to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.
In Monday night's meeting, the CAC did not reach a decision as to which of the final three dog park sites they would recommend.
"I can't say for certain, of course — it's a group dynamic — but my sense is that it will NOT go on for several more months," Brauer wrote in an email to Southwest Patch. "In fact, I think there's a better than 50/50 shot it will be decided at the next meeting."
The next CAC meeting will take place on Sept. 12, from 6:30- 8:30 p.m. at Lynnhurst Recreation Center.
"After 12 meetings with public input, a couple of district-wide mailings and hundreds of online survey responses, it's time to make a
recommendation," Brauer added.
Nonetheless, CAC members had further questions about parking, and requested additional information from Park Staff before next month’s meeting, raising the possibility that the process could continue to drag on.
“I hope this will be over by Christmas,” said CAC member Lisa McDonald.
Cost Overruns Possible
In presenting the designs, park board planner Jennifer Ringold said that all of the design estimates exceeded the park board’s allotted budget of $32,500, which could present a problem in a “We can’t speak for the whole board,” said Park Board Chair John Erwin, who attended the meeting with other commissioners, “but we’d want a base bid… and not the whole Cadillac.”
CAC member Jean Johnson, who also served on the 2000 CAC, asked if it was possible to trim some of the costs, so that the new dog park would be something “less than a Cadillac.” Ringold responded that there was “wiggle room” even in terms of the core costs of each site.
Site 7 has a projected budget of $87,000, Site 1 has a projected budget of $111,000 and site 32 has a projected budget of $125,000. The increased costs, Ringold said, were due to the design challenges of each site. Site 32, for example, had the challenge of building a dog park on an existing parking lot, whereas Site 7 necessitates the replacement of a bike trail along Minnehaha Creek, and Site 1 has challenges of preserving the historic character surrounding Theodore Wirth House.
CAC member Brook Lemm-Tabor, who represents the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, said that dog park fees generate $200,000 each year, so funding could come from the next few years’ licensing fees. “People are already paying for this service that they do not have,” Lemm-Tabor said.
Dog Park Design Features Unveiled
A couple of other features in the designs include taller native grass planted in Site 1 to protect the slope to make it less prone to erosion, as well as exterior landscaping at that site to create an “entry feeling.” Site 7 features would include realignment with a new trail, and working to dog park traffic off the trail by aligning the area along the goat path, creating two entrances at the upper end and lower end. Site 7 would also include a patio area for socializing. Site 32 would also include a patio, and would need French drains. The asphalt would mostly be replaced by woodchips and grass, Ringhold said.
In terms of size Ringold provided the following comparisons. Site 1, at .97 acres or usable land, would be able to hold 60 dogs, Site 7, at .94 acres, could hold 58 dogs, and Site 32, at .64 acres, could hold 39 dogs.