Duluth Dog Parks Prompt Concern and Support

Posted at: 11/12/2013 9:42 PM | Updated at: 11/12/2013 10:13 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

The Duluth City Council passed a resolution Tuesday allowing plans to move forward for dog parks in the central and eastern portions of town. Residents voiced support and concern at the meeting.

Councilors Jay Fosle and Jennifer Julsrud opposed the resolution citing a lack of community input in the park selection process.

Russell Square at 43rd Avenue East and Observation Park at 10th Avenue West have been targeted for conversion to dog parks like Keene Creek was 8 years ago.

The Keene Creek Dog Park is the only space where it is legal to unleash a dog in Duluth. It has been around for years, but some residents want more options closer to home.

At the council meeting resident Denette Lynch said she has supported the dog park idea since public meetings started nine months ago.

“We're just asking for a fenced area within two existing parks to have dogs off-leash and safe from traffic legally,” Lynch said.

But other residents worried the dogs would take over Russell Square and Observation Park.

Zach Walters runs the Jungle Boy Boxing gym. At the council meeting he said youth athletes train in the open space of Observation Park, and he doesn't want that to be limited by the city.

“Dogs come, boxers come, football players come, softball players come. It's being used. I don't really see a need to change it,” Walters said.

Councilor Emily Larson said the plans are in the early stages and can work for everyone.

“That's a really big park so what's being proposed there, at least talked about, is not the entire field. It's not the whole park,” Larson said.

Councilor Sharla Gardner supported the resolution, but said public input will be important to changing the plans moving forward.

“If people in the neighborhood are totally against the dog parks, both the neighborhoods, then I know Parks and Rec. made it very clear that they're not going to impose that on a community that doesn't want it,” Gardner said.

There are no firm plans for the park fencing, but councilors mentioned construction estimates of $20,000 to $40,0000.

No city money has been set aside for the creation of the dog parks, and dog owners would likely be required to raise the funds.

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