by Dennis Dalman
The dog park planned for Pinecone Central Park will be about half the size of what had been agreed upon in late 2013.
The park plan, once seven acres in size, has been downscaled to four acres. The Sartell City council approved the change at a recent meeting. Even though it’s been reduced in size, apparently all involved are content with the new configuration.
The reason for the change is that a closer inspection of the land in that area discovered the previous plan, if executed, would interfere with the pond there and the ski trails. The original conception called for a very elongated north-south dog park of seven acres, including a running-play area and an agility-training course.
The new one of four acres is an east-west configuration – an elongated running area and a shorter but wider site for the agility course.
A group of local dog enthusiasts, dubbed DogPAC, has been raising funds. It hopes to raise $150,000 for fencing of the area and other amenities on the site. The city has agreed to chip in $10,000 for the project.
Council member Amy Braig-Lindstrom, a long-time advocate for a dog park, said she likes the new configuration better than the previous plan because it locates the dog park closer to the baseball fields. Many who come to watch baseball bring their dogs, and they can walk, run or romp with their canines in the dog park, she noted.
At that same meeting, the council launched into a lengthy discussion about placement, accesses, proximities, soil conditions, parking, trails and a picnic area – all in relation to the site of the dog park.
Council members David Peterson and Sarah Jane Nicoll said they wondered if all future options had been ruled out for amenities before agreeing to put the downsized dog park in that location.
“I’m dumbfounded,” said Amy Braig-Lindstrom, adding the DogPac plans had been downsized and its members are satisfied with less space and the new location, and yet some council members seem to want to “put the kibosh” on the project just because something, another park usage, “just might show up down the road.”
In reply, Nicoll said, “I’m not a jerk; I’m not trying to be mean. I just want to feel comfortable with this decision.”
Nicoll then asked, rhetorically, what if the city will have to take down the dog-park fence in the future for some reason?
“It’s easier to move fence posts than a parking lot,” Braig-Lindstrom said to Nicoll.
By the end of the long discussion, the council seemed to come to a consensus that there is still flexibility to the dog-park plan, which can be tweaked here and there.
The council approved the plan on a 3-2 vote.