Several concerns have surfaced from residents neighboring the proposed 5-acre dog park planned near the Wobegon trailhead. The main consensus seems to be “not in my backyard.” Though some valid points have been raised, none seem to be cause for alarm or extreme opposition.
The two residents’ opinions (featured in one of this week’s articles and a letter to the editor) seem rather weak.
The main points they make are as follows:
• Residences bordering the proposed site will not have use of the land.
• Dogs will be present in a wooded area where wildlife live and neighbors go for walks or use ATVs and snowmobiles.
• The assumption a dog park would mean cutting down trees.
• The land is currently being used for drainage.
• Expenses for adding a freshwater source, fencing, adequate lighting, additional parking, stairs and/or a ramp for handicapped accessibility and cleaning would be costly.
• Lack of parking would deter visitors and affect the local economy.
A few of these issues can be addressed as follows: the city land will be available to all residents, not just a few; the noise and movement of ATVs and snowmobiles is no better or worse for wildlife than a few dogs barking at any given time; the land may still be used for drainage; there’s no reason to cut down trees to add a dog park – many dog owners and their dogs go to dog parks to enjoy trees as much as space; and adding a dog park could potentially boost the economy.
St. Joseph is growing and with its growth comes more pet owners. According to humanesociety.org, pet ownership in the United States has more than tripled from the 1970s with 62 percent of American households now owning at least one pet. While some pet owners have yards, some yards may not be adequate or safe for pets. And more and more landlords and property management companies are relaxing rules to allow for pets, though most still require an extra damage deposit to house Fido or Fifi.
The most valid reasons not to create a dog park in the proposed location include pet owner and pet safety, costs and parking issues.
But a little imagination, fundraising and some sweat equity would go a long way toward accomplishing the goal. In the past, St. Joseph residents and businesses have worked together to accomplish what some deemed “nearly impossible” – a new fire hall; beautifying downtown with lighting, benches and flower baskets; and building a Wobegon trailhead center, to name just a few.
Either way residents choose to look at it, voice your opinion during the Park Board meeting at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 28 at City Hall, 25 College Ave. N.