Paula Eich, St. Joseph
The Park Board would like to create a 5-acre dog park on two parcels by the Wobegon trailhead. A dog park has benefits for both the dogs and owners. However, as a St. Joseph resident and taxpayer, I am concerned about using this area for a dog park.
Here are some facts about the area the Park Board is looking at:
This 5-acre area is currently being used as street drainage for several city streets and has less than one acre of grass. The rain and spring thaw water is made up of oil, antifreeze, salt and many other contaminates which are harmful to a dog if ingested. To add a fresh water source (drilling a well and hooking up to city water) could likely cost more than $5,000.
The area has an extremely uneven terrain and is full of brush, trees, garbage, large rocks and debris. Adding fill will not work since the area’s intended use is for street drainage. Cleaning such an area, providing adequate lighting for safety and adding additional parking spaces would be expensive and time-consuming.
Fencing around the area is another expense. Separate areas of fencing would need to be established for large and small dogs. Adding a double-gated entrance (about 3,400 feet of 6-foot fence at $16-per-foot, uninstalled) could cost taxpayers $54,000. Installation increases the cost exponentially. The terrain of the area would require a set of stairs and possibly a handicap ramp so pet owners could get to the bottom of the hill safely.
The parking lot on the trailhead is usually full from individuals using the trail. Parking overflows onto neighborhood streets. This includes winter when snowmobile trailers are present. With a lack of parking, families will go to other towns to access the Wobegon Trail, affecting local businesses.
In 2014, the City of St. Joseph licensed 337 dogs. The majority of those dogs belong to homeowners who have their own personal park, also known as a yard. Why do the few animals that do not have a yard require a specialized park when existing dog parks are within a short drive? Is spending tax dollars on a small percentage of the population the best use of funding? You do the math.
I encourage you to attend the Park Board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28 at City Hall, 25 College Ave. N. If you cannot attend, please contact our mayor, city council and park board members to let them know what you think about a dog park by the Wobegon trailhead.