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UPDATED: Park Board Planning Committee Approves Dog Park Site

The new park has been years in the making.

Southwest Minneapolis's dog park is almost ready for its final approval, after a Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board vote on Tuesday night. The Sixth Park District Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) of this year, and after much deliberation over the spring and summer, to recommend the site near .

The site is currently a parking lot for park maintenance staff. 

About three years ago, citizens from Kingfield mobilized to create a dog park at Dr. Martin Luther King Park, but after about the connotations of an off-leash area in a park dedicated to Dr. King last year, the park board created a new CAC to look at other potential sites. 

The parking lot site may be a compromise, but for dog park enthusiasts, they are happy to be finally moving forward.

“As I’m looking out, there are not a lot of happy faces,” said Commissioner Brad Bourn at Tuesday’s meeting. “But maybe that’s a good thing.”

According to Bourn, who represents Southwest Minneapolis, a lot of needs were met, and the CAC was able to protect what people thought they needed to protected. Bourn said he was absolutely positive that the site would be a “lynch pin of the community.” 

Commissioner Bob Fine was less enthusiastic, saying the cost of the site, parking and drainage issues, and the loss of parking for maintenence staff gave him pause.

Commissioner Jon Olson also said he has concerns about the cost, which he called "excessive."

“When we got into dog parks- we tried to have a budget of under $50,000 per site,” he said. “Now we’re talking triple, maybe more.”

“I wish we had better options,” he added.

The new park is projected to cost $132,500—$100,000 more than the original budget. As part of the project, $32,500 was also allotted for Dr. Martin Luther King Park improvements. For the latter park, MPRB also approved applying for a $1 million grant from ArtPlace for infrastructure improvements on Tuesday. 

According to a fact sheet provided by Ringold, revenue generated from dog park permits throughout the city amounted to $240,185 in 2010 and is projected to generate $247,390 in 2011. The estimated maintenance costs for all of the dog parks are $46,540 for trash pick-up and $3,201.40 for chips, according to the fact sheet. 

Also part of the resolution passed last night was a directive for staff to “engage the community in development of a system-wide off-leash recreation area master plan”, of which many commissioners and dog park supporters were supportive. Since staff have already plotted out their projects for next year, the master plan would most likely begin in 2013 or 2014.

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