The following article by Randy Furst was published in the Star Tribune on August 29, 2012:
LONG-DEBATED, LONG-AWAITED DOG PARK MIGHT OPEN IN NOVEMBER
The long debated and much anticipated dog park in south Minneapolis could be operational by mid to late November, a Parks Board official said Wednesday.
“I think it’s going to be a really fun spot,” said Jennifer Ringold, manager of public engagement and city wide planning for the park board.
An informational meeting for citizens is taking place on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Lyndale Farmstead Park, 3900 Bryant Ave.
Construction bids could go out in early September for the Sixth District dog park on Kings Hwy. across from the Lakewood Cemetery. The park will cover .6 of an acre.
“The intent is to have the contractor in place by the beginning of October,” she said. “It should not be a long construction process; we anticipate six to eight weeks.”
In 2010, the park board unveiled plans to build the dog park at Dr. Martin Luther King Park at 40th St. East and Nicollet Ave. But after a six-month debate, the idea was scrapped because of widespread opposition from the black community, particularly from older blacks who lived during and participated in the civil rights movement. Many recalled the images of police dogs attacking demonstrators, and people felt a dog park would desecrate the memory of King, the nation’s most famous civil rights leader.
The park board then engaged in an extensive process to find an alternative dog site and settled on the parking lot behind a park operations building at 38th St. and Kings Hwy.
Construction plans were delayed this summer so that park officials could reexamine drainage issues at the site.
Ringold said that 15 times in the last 20 years, the parking lot has flooded, and there was concern that the wood chips, that park officials planned to use as the surface of the dog park would float away into an adjacent storm water pond and foul up the pumps that push the water into the city’s underground storm water system.
So instead, the park board plans to cover the dog park with crushed granite, similar to the finely ground material used on the infields of baseball diamonds or along the base lines of softball fields, Ringold said. “It took time to figure out the right material,” she said.
Work will include removing the existing asphalt, installing a perimeter fence and entrance gates and installing the new surface. There also may be a shade structure and water faucet for drinking water for the dogs.
The plan also includes creating spots for eight cars to park by carving out eight parking bays along the boulevard of Kings Parkway. People who don’t get those spots will have to park on side streets, Ringold said.