Parks Commission to hold dog park public hearing, make recommendation
December 2, 2010
By Tim Pfarr
The Parks Commission chose primary and secondary locations for a potential off-leash dog park in the city, and will hold a public hearing at its Dec. 8 meeting.
The commission chose the southwest corner of Lake Boren Park as its primary location, and the grassy field atop the mound at the site of the future sports park — to be off Southeast 95th Way — as its secondary location.
Although the commission had previously narrowed potential locations for an off-leash dog park to the north end of Lake Boren Park and the future sports park, the commission began considering alternative locations after a commission subcommittee met in October with representatives from the Newcastle group Friends Embracing the Canine Heart.
At the meeting, F.E.T.C.H. representatives suggested new locations that had not been previously considered, including a field at the southwest corner of Lake Boren Park.
The subcommittee suggested returning to the City Council for more direction on the project before moving forward, but Parks Program Manager Michael Holly said doing so would likely stall the project until spring, so the commission decided at its Nov. 10 meeting to proceed in crafting its recommendation.
The location at the southwest corner of Lake Boren Park the commission chose is about a half-acre on a slope, and is covered with blackberry bushes and knotweed, which are invasive species. Holly said the slope might need to be flattened or rocks might need to be removed before a park could be built.
F.E.T.C.H. representative Allen Dauterman said the primary site at the southwest corner of Lake Boren Park is near the new site F.E.T.C.H. recommended, but he expressed concerns with the spot’s feasibility, given the slope, bushes and rocks.
“It’s hard to say until some work is done and weeds are cleared,” he said. However, if the site can be altered to accommodate a dog park, it would be a favorable location.
“If this is the location, we’re excited about cleaning that area up and making it useful,” Dauterman said.
Members of the commission said the new location has the benefit of being in a totally unused area of Lake Boren Park, far from the lake.
“The Lake Boren site was proposed by the folks that will be using it, so if it’s reasonable, which I think it is, let’s make it convenient for them,” Parks Commission Vice Chair Morris wrote in an e-mail after the meeting about the park.
The location at the future sports park, which would likely be about an acre and temporary, garnered support from Commission Chairman Andrew Shelton and Parks Commissioner Christopher Hills.
Shelton said he liked both of the new locations, but the sports park is more desirable because of its larger size, which could allow for separate areas for large and small dogs. He said Lake Boren Park is already considerably busy, and that relatively few benefit from being within walking distance of the park, so car trips would still often be required.
Furthermore, Shelton said residents should know the location is to be part of the city’s parks system.
“You want people to know that it is ours as well and will be a part of the Newcastle system for a long time,” he said.
If the future sports park location is chosen, a path would need to be built to reach the top of the mound, and the park would need to be moved when construction on the park begins. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2013, according to the 2011 preliminary budget.
Dauterman said F.E.T.C.H. still opposes the future sports park location, but that the commission should be sure not to confuse its lack of support for the site with stubbornness.
“We’re more than willing to take the effort to provide funding for any and every site in Newcastle except that location, because it doesn’t serve the community the best,” he said.
At the Nov. 10 meeting, the city brought forward a table detailing the costs of a potential park. The minimum price to build a half-acre park would be between $12,100 and $14,200, with a maintenance cost of just less than $1,000 per year. The minimum cost for a one-acre park would be between $20,500 and $24,700 with a similar maintenance cost.
The pricing estimates assume no water usage, no restroom expenses for dog owners and no kiosk, table, bench or shade structure construction. Restroom expenses would add $1,300 each year, while kiosks and benches would each cost about $1,000 each to build. Tables would cost about $1,100 each to build.
After the public hearing, the recommendation will come before the City Council early next year.
The council directed the commission in June to explore options for an off-leash dog park in Newcastle and return with a recommendation. It directed the commission to keep the costs associated with its recommendation to less than $25,000.
If you go
The Parks Commission hosts a public meeting to take input on a potential off-leash city dog park at 6 p.m. Dec. 8 at council chambers, 13020 Newcastle Way.