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Dog Park Citizen Committee Creates New List of Potential Sites

The committee will consider sites across I35W as well.

The 6th Park District Dog Park Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) agreed Monday on a preliminary list of new sites to consider for the off-leash dog area, including sites in Lyndale Farmstead Park, Fuller Park, Phelps Park, Minnehaha Creek and some privately-owned lots.

of new sites to consider were accepted from the public and CAC members. After going through all the submitted sites, the CAC settled on a preliminary list they'll evaluate according to criteria they've agreed upon.  

Originally created to look at three sites at the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board's request, the CAC dismissed two of the sites—near the Bird Sanctuary and the Peace Garden—last month, and requested that they be allowed to seek additional sites, which the park board approved. The CAC then requested site proposals from residents of the 6th Park District, as well as the adjoining neighborhoods of Central, Regina, Bryant, and Field.  

The park board currently owns five of the sites that made the preliminary list. There were two nominations accepted in Lyndale Farmstead Park. One is located south of the Southside Operations Center wall and west of the existing diagonal sidewall and the second is a triangle piece of land between the tennis courts and the parking lot. The latter site could possibly use part of the parking lot. The CAC also accepted sites at Phelps Park, Fuller Park, and a site on the south side of Minnehaha Creek from Pleasant Avenue to West Minnehaha Parkway.

 There were a few sites that are privately owned that made it onto the list as well.  The former garden center property at 4th Avenue South and East 40th Street, was put on the list, as well as a site at 3951 5th Avenue South Also, the CAC will consider using the fenced lot at the corner of 36th Street and Nicollet Ave South.  

CAC member Matt Perry, while he urged the group to think creatively and err on the site of accepting nominations rather than dismissing them too quickly, did suggest that the CAC request from the Park Board what the ceiling would be in terms of cost for acquiring or leasing privately-owned land. There was also some discussion of shared use of private property, or seasonal use of public land in the winter months, but the CAC made the decision that it would be better to find a site that would exclusively be devoted for dog park use.  

Three of the sites accepted on the list—at Phelps Park, the former garden center property, and the site at 3951 5th Avenue South—are outside of the original service area that the CAC was supposed to look at. However, the CAC intends to request permission to look at those sites, as they are in the adjoining neighborhoods on the other side of I35W.

There was some discussion on the CAC whether to wait until the nominated sites within the service area had been vetted before taking a look at the sites on the other side of the freeway. CAC member David Brauer initially suggested that the CAC look at the sites within the service area first.

However, a number of CAC members felt since they've already opened up the idea of looking at sites in Regina, Field, Central and Bryant to the public, those sites should be looked at along with those in the service area district. Jonathan Lee, from the Kingfield Dog Park Task Force, said that if the CAC doesn’t consider sites outside the service area, the CAC would be rushing those neighbors “through the process we’ve just included them into.”  

CAC Chair Tom Nordyke said: “What I’m hearing is, this is not a side conversation. This is something we are committed to.” 

While there wasn’t a formal use of the established criteria in creating the initial nomination list, there were some issues that emerged when looking at the proposed sites. In some cases, proximity to homes was an issue, as well as whether the site was a on a busy street. Mike Barr, from the Linden Hills Neighborhood, said that he was concerned about having a dog park near a busy street, because his dog got hurt at the Lake of the Isles dog park. “It worries me to see small dog parks around busy streets,” he said. “Lord knows dogs can get away from their owners.”

 Another issue for some of the sites was whether they were located in parks that currently get a lot of use. The Phelps Park, for example, already has a baseball field, and people use the park for playing soccer. Fuller Park, too, has heavy usage.  

However, a number of members of the CAC echoed Matt Perry’s call to be lenient in accepting sites onto the list, so there wouldn’t be too few. As the CAC goes through each site more thoroughly, there will be more opportunity to weigh the criteria, and the advantages and disadvantages of each site. “We should err on the side of having the criteria doing the work for us,” said Jean Johnson.

The next two meetings for the dog park citizen committee will be held on May 23 and June 6.  See the dog park's forum site for updates and online discussions between CAC members. 

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