Unleash that dog park
BY CHRIS HAMILTON NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER Get out the dog booties and sweater for Fido, but get ready to ditch his leash. Duluth's long-awaited dog park likely will open the first week of December, said Parks and Recreation director Carl Seehus...
BY CHRIS HAMILTON
NEWS TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER
Get out the dog booties and sweater for Fido, but get ready to ditch his leash.
Duluth's long-awaited dog park likely will open the first week of December, said Parks and Recreation director Carl Seehus.
Keene Creek Park is the first city park where dogs can roam legally without leashes [But only inside the fenced-in area], and is the result of four years of work by dedicated volunteers, parks commissioners and city staff, Seehus said.
Keene Creek Park is just west of Interstate 35 on Grand Avenue at about 60th Avenue West. The park itself is about an acre of mostly open space within a narrow park that runs up Thompson Hill.
Parks Department public information coordinator Julene Boe said the city hopes to have volunteers at the park for at least two hours a day, seven days a week. The volunteers will act more like ambassadors than cops and be there to explain park rules and dog etiquette.
Lots of help is still needed, Boe said, and volunteer orientation sessions are scheduled from 5 to 6 p.m. Monday and Wednesday. Both meetings will take place at the Parks and Recreation central office at 12 E. Fourth St.
"Part of having a dog park is an educational experience," Seehus said. "People that have something in common can come together."
If the park is a success, organizers with the volunteer group Duluth Dogs Unleashed hope to continue their work and establish more dog parks in the central and eastern parts of the city, said dog parks committee chairwoman Jean Brozic.
Another city plan could have built a second dog park on Duluth-owned land in Rice Lake Township, but that deal failed more than a year ago due to township opposition.
Meanwhile in the past few years, dozens of dog parks have spread to both large and small cities across Minnesota and Wisconsin.
"Minneapolis has 17 dog parks now," Brozic said. "This is just great for Duluth. We expect a big turnout."
Seehus said there are public misconceptions that will dissipate once Duluth's dog park gets going, making it easier for other parks to gain acceptance from neighbors. A few of the mistaken beliefs are that dogs will fight, when they are in fact pack animals and social; dog parks are dirty; and they are places where people abandon unwanted pets.
"Duluth always wants to see proof first," Seehus said.
The $13,000 for the park was raised entirely through private donations because the Parks and Recreation Department has been experiencing budget problems the past several years, said Brozic, who is also on the Parks Commission.
Committee members hosted a spaghetti feed, golf tournament and Halloween dog pageant and sold t-shirts, sweatshirts and plaques to garner the funds. They plan to have more fundraisers, such as a springtime hot dog barbeque, Brozic said.
Seehus said a ribbon cutting will take place next month followed by a grand opening celebration in the spring. The fence and gate work is expected to be finished by Monday. An informational kiosk; rules signs and doggy mitts distributors will be installed soon after.
The idea for a Duluth dog park was first raised four years ago by a Parks and Recreation Commission task force on Duluth trails.
More than a year ago, Duluth city councilors approved park land for the project.
Keene Creek Park was created in the 1980s after the Minnesota Department of Transportation completed the Interstate 35 overpasses and deeded the property to the city.
Seehus said Keene Creek Park is underutilized. He expects that the dog park and extra eyes will also alleviate recent problems with vandalism in the area.
He also hopes the park and more like it will mitigate regular problems in other parks such as Chester Bowl and Hartley Field with unleashed dogs, Seehus said. For example, A News Tribune reader recently called the paper to complain about an overwhelming amount of dog poop in Lester Park near the pavilion.
For more information about the park or how to volunteer, call 730-4318 or visit www.duluthdogparks.com Contributions can be sent to: Dog Park Fund, c/o Parks and Recreation 12 E. Fourth St., Duluth, MN 55805.
CHRIS HAMILTON covers the Duluth community and city government. He can be reached weekdays at (218) 279-5502 or by e-mail at email@example.com .