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Tom Wallace, Star Tribune

Price tag doubles for Minneapolis dog park

  • Article by: RANDY FURST
  • Star Tribune
  • November 7, 2012 - 12:53 AM

The estimated cost of a new dog park near Lyndale Farmstead Park in south Minneapolis has doubled since last year to $215,000.

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board is scheduled to vote Wednesday on the contract for the park, which could open later this month. The higher cost reflects the need to install an expensive gravel base, rather than wood chips common in other dog parks in the city, said Park Board President John Erwin.

He said park officials found that the wood chips could float into an adjacent water retention pond and damage pumps that move the water into storm sewers.

Sixth District Park Commissioner Brad Bourn said he expected the board will approve the more expensive contract for the park, which is next to Lyndale Farmstead park.

"People have been asking for a dog park in my district at a grass-roots level since I was 10 years old," said Bourn, who is now 33.

If weather permits, the board plans to build some fences and gates and allow the public to use the site late this month or early in December, said Jennifer Ringold, the board's manager of public engagement and citywide planning.

The dog run would close for construction in the spring and tentatively reopen in June, she said.

The site is not without critics.

Bob Fine, former Sixth District and now at-large commissioner, said he voted against the park and will do so again. "I have serious concerns about the site," he said. "It's right inside the walls of a maintenance facility. [The cost] keeps getting bigger. Where's the end?"

The struggle to build a south Minneapolis off-leash dog park reads like a historical novel:

Proposals considered for more than 10 years culminated in an epic fight two years ago in which civil rights advocates successfully blocked its construction at Martin Luther King Park.

The King Park site was rejected by the board in early 2011. Many black residents said allowing dogs to run free there would denigrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., whose non-violent demonstrations were attacked by police in the South who sometimes used snarling dogs.

The latest version, to be built behind a park board operations building at 38th Street and Kings Highway, was to open last year, then earlier this year, then this month.

The Park Board has on its agenda Wednesday a proposal to spend $192,000 to construct the park, the lowest bid. The board also has about $23,000 in additional costs related to the dog park.

Bourn said it represents .003 percent of the board's capital and operating budget of $60 million. "Even at this price, it is less expensive than other amenities we build that serve fewer people. It is cheaper than a baseball field, it's cheaper than a tennis court, it's cheaper than a wading pool," Bourn said.

Erwin said the majority of the cost will come from off-leash dog license fees, with about $50,000 coming from other projects that will be replenished from license fees.

"We're sensing people are waiting and anxious to get out and use it," said Ringold, the park official. "We know there have been some significant challenges but our resolve is very high to get it open."

Sarah Linnes-Robinson, director of the Kingfield Neighborhood Association, said she's glad to hear the dog park may be close.

Randy Furst • 612-673-4224

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