Oakdale Bark Park: ‘It is really, truly open!’

Judy and Jack McDonald enjoyed the newly reopened Bark Park with their rescue dog, Cobalt. (Amy Felegy/Review)

Oakdale’s newly-renovated Bark Park now features a drinking fountain, a rainwater system and a new parking lot. (Amy Felegy photos/Review)

The dog park still needs a few improvements, neighbors say — including a “rules” sign and a fence around a swampy area.

Neighbors and their dogs are reveling in a newly reopened dog park after a summer without it.

The Oakdale Bark Park, located in the 7400 block of 50th Street North, underwent months-long upgrades and some accompanying delays, but is now open for use.

The 4.6-acre park closed June 10 and was set to reopen mid-July. That turned into mid-August, and the park officially reopened on Aug. 30. 

“It is really, truly open!” Oakdale officials said in a Facebook post. “We hear and understand your frustration in regard to the delayed open date ... but next time you go your dogs will not be disappointed.”


What’s new?

The city installed a drinking fountain, a stormwater rain garden, parking lot curbs and pavement.

North St. Paul residents Judy and Jack McDonald go to the Bark Park with their rescue dog, Cobalt, several times a week. While they were patient with the construction process, they said there are a few things the park is still missing.

“They haven’t finished off things like the ‘Dog Park Rules’ [sign],” Judy said.

In addition, a swamp area on the northeast corner of the park is prime for collecting water, the McDonalds said.

“Not all the dogs love it, but ours does,” Judy said. “It would have been nice if they would have just kind of fenced it off.”

Others who frequent the dog park agreed, turning to social media to voice their concerns. The city responded, saying future plans for the wet area are unclear. The city’s recreation superintendent did not respond to a request for comment.

“Hate getting the smelly, wet dog back in the car,” one woman said on an Oakdale neighbors Facebook page. “[That’s] why we quit going to the park there.”


A lengthy process

Another frustration was the delayed timeline of the park. The McDonalds said they drove by the park several times a week to check on its progress.

“We wanted it done. We’re like, ‘Come on, get off those shovels! Get that fence set up,” Jack said with a laugh.

On Aug. 12, the city said construction was still in progress and apologized for the inconvenience.

Oakdale City Council member Kevin Zabel said weather was a contributing factor to the construction’s delays, but neighbors aren’t so sure.

“[It] seemed like quite a long time. The weather seemed to be okay construction-wise. I think this is not a high priority timing-wise,” Jack said. “I don’t know why they dilly-dallied on it. But I guess the curbs and the roads and the parking lots were a big job.”


Looking up

Even with the summer-long construction, the McDonalds said they found the silver lining in it all.

“They’ve done a wonderful job,” said Judy. “For us it was a long time, but then we found out about Battle Creek and the High Bridge Dog Park.”

At the end of the day, neighbors said they are just happy they can take their pawed pals to the park once again.

“I’m so excited!” a woman posted on the city’s Facebook page in response to the reopening. “Can’t wait to take my pups! Love this place so much [and] looking forward to enjoying the upgrades!”

And for some, it’s not just a place for dogs. 

“Here you can actually get your own walking done. You can circle and circle,” Jack said. “And they have benches for us old people — don’t under-rate them.”

Judy said she hopes the city considers installing a donation box at the park. A dog park in North St. Paul, she noted, is also on her wish list. 

The Bark Park is free and requires no vehicle permit. It opens 30 minutes before sunrise and closes 30 minutes after sunset.


–Amy Felegy can be reached at afelegy@lillienews.com or 651-748-7815.

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