Dog park in Lake Elmo a likelihood

Parks commission to hold public hearing Sept. 21

Dog owners in Lake Elmo may soon have a place for their four-legged friends to play off-leash in Sunfish Lake Park.

The city’s parks commission has been working on a proposal to create a fenced-in dog park to be located near the west entrance of the park, off Jamaca Avenue, just east of fire station No. 2.

The parks commission has been exploring the idea of setting aside land and building a dog park in Lake Elmo since 2012, and commissioners believe they have found a good location in the park that would be cost-effective to develop and is currently underutilized.

Interim city administrator Clark Schroeder said commissioners originally looked into the possibility of building a 2.3-acre park at the proposed location in the western portion of Sunfish Lake Park, but are now leaning toward recommending that 10-acres be used for a future dog park.

Parks commission chair Shane Weis said the parcel for the proposed site is already fenced-in.

“That’s one major advantage of the site is the cost-effectiveness. ... We could get a nice dog park there for under $10,000.”

The dog park would be paid for using park dedication fees obtained from new developments in Lake Elmo. Schroeder said the city has nearly $1 million in those fees in its coffers that may only be used on parks projects.

Weis said a survey conducted last year showed majority support among respondents for a dog park in Lake Elmo, but he said there are some who are opposed to the proposed location.

The commission is seeking public input and will be holding a public hearing at its Monday, Sept. 21, meeting. Parks commission meetings are open to the public and held at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 3800 Laverne Ave. N.

Weis said the park could be open later this year if it receives council approval.

City council members have expressed support for an off-leash dog park.

Council member Jill Lundgren has been working with the parks commission on the proposal and would like to see plans move forward. She has spoken with many dog owners in Lake Elmo, who travel to dog parks in neighboring suburbs, and would like to see one closer to home.

At the council’s Aug. 18 meeting, council member Anne Smith said she would support a dog park if it was something residents in Lake Elmo would value and support.

“I’m fully in support of a dog park,” council member Justin Bloyer said.

“Me too. Especially in this location and for as inexpensively as it could be added,” council member Julie Fliflet added.

Weis said the largest expense associated with building the dog park in Sunfish Lake Park would likely be widening an existing tractor path behind the fire station, putting down gravel and constructing a parking area.

Initial plans also call for a double gate to be installed, so unleashed dogs in the park are unable to slip out when new arrivals enter the park.

The grassy area has a few trees, Weis said, but is mostly an open field. He said there would be separate, fenced-off areas for both smaller and larger breeds.

The total cost for the dog park, he said, would depend on the types of landscaping and amenities that could potentially be added to the park.

Schroeder said the Lake Elmo Jaycees and a local veterinary clinic want to get involved with the dog park project by donating amenities, such as a picnic table and benches for owners to use while the pets are frolicking.

Joshua Nielsen can be reached at jnielsen@lillienews.com or 651-748-7822.

 

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