Efforts are under way to create a regional dog park near the compost site at Bunker Hills Regional Park.
Once that happens, or maybe even before, the city of Coon Rapids will close its dog park at Trackside Park.
Open since 2006, the dog park has been a source of irritation for residents of the area recently.
Mike Carter, who lives on Hummingbird Street, which is one of two residential streets that are located across from the park, has been to the Coon Rapids City Council meeting open mike session twice in recent months.
Most recently, Carter raised issues of barking dogs and people that are using the dog park parking their vehicles on both sides of Hummingbird, blocking driveways and making travel difficult.
In addition, Carter made the point that the council had rejected multiple pet permits for dog owners based on barking dog complaints, calling it a quality of life issue.
“Mr. Carter did make several valid points,” said Steve Gatlin, Coon Rapids public services director.
The city opened the dog park at Trackside Park, 104th and Hummingbird Street, in late 2006. The park totals 4.3 acres.
The dog park comprises a fenced area for exercising dogs with a holding gate, which is available for entry into the park for dog leash removal.
Inside the park are mowed trails and exercise areas.
The park has several dispensing stations for dog waste pickup bags, benches and picnic tables for use by pet owners.
The dog park is open from sunrise to sunset throughout the year.
When the dog park first opened there were few complaints, but they have grown recently because of the increased use of the dog park as it has become better known, not only in Coon Rapids, but to dog owners outside the city, Gatlin said.
The closest dog park is in Fridley, he said.
According to Gatlin, the city started talks with Anoka County about creating a dog park near the compost site at the county’s Bunker Hills Regional Park some five years ago.
At that time there was an estimated cost between $150,000 and $200,000 to create a dog park that would have included a 60-vehicle concrete paved parking lot, concrete curb, fencing and watering area, Gatlin said.
While the county budgeted its half of the anticipated cost, the city was unable to afford its share and the project was shelved, he said.
Now city and county staff have renewed discussions of a joint city/county dog park on the Bunker Hills Regional Park site, specifically on a portion of the compost site, Gatlin said.
The compost site is located on 133rd Avenue, east of Hanson Boulevard on the border between Coon Rapids and Andover.
Indeed, the city of Andover is also interested in becoming part of the project because it, too, has been considering installing a dog park at one of its parks, Gatlin said.
Another meeting between the county and the two cities is planned in the next week, he said.
And under the new proposal, the cost is anticipated to be a lot less than the previous budget, according to Gatlin.
That’s because a recent code change enacted by the Coon Rapids City Council would not require a concrete surface for the parking lot, but rather a much less expensive milled bituminous material, Gatlin said.
“That would shave around $100,000 off the cost and if we could use some recycled materials, like a chain link fence, the final cost could be in the $40,000 to $50,000 range,” he said.
The proposed location is south and east of the compost site about 400 feet from the nearest residence, Gatlin said.
“The plan would be that if all parties agree, the dog park could be operational in the spring of 2013,” he said.
When the council discussed the dog park issue July 17, it decided to set a work session to take place within a few weeks to talk about the joint proposal and decide the future of Trackside Park as a dog park.
“The dog park has been a victim of its own success,” said Mayor Tim Howe.
While Howe said that if the new regional dog park becomes a reality, then Trackside Park would no longer be a dog park. Councilmember Scott Schulte said he could support closing the dog park at Trackside before the new dog park opens.
He agreed with Carter that it was a quality of life issue for residents living adjacent to Trackside Park and said it was he who brought up quality of life as a reason for rejecting multiple pet permits when barking dogs were an issue.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]