Coon Rapids’ Trackside Dog Park will remain open at least until a new dog park location has been found.
Some residents in the area surrounding Trackside have called on the Coon Rapids City Council to shut down the dog park immediately, but a half-dozen users of the dog park appeared at the Aug. 8 open mik portion of the council meeting to request that the dog park remain open.
More were at the open mik session of Tuesday’s meeting when a petition with the signatures of more than 200 people was presented to the council to keep Trackside open.
And when the council discussed the issue at a budget work session Aug. 9, there was consensus that Trackside would not be closed until a new dog park has been completed.
As well, the Coon Rapids Parks and Recreation Commission at its Aug. 6 meeting recommended to the council that Trackside Dog Park remain in place until a replacement park is open.
Efforts are under way to create a regional dog park near the compost site at Bunker Hills Regional Park.
“Planning for the relocation of the dog park is currently under way,” said Acting City Manager and Public Services Director Steve Gatlin.
According to Gatlin, the next step in the process is for plans for a new dog park to be completed and presented to the council for approval.
In addition, negotiations have to be finalized with Anoka County and the city of Andover for sharing costs for construction and maintenance of the new dog park, Gatlin told the council.
“These discussions are currently ongoing and should be completed by the end of 2012,” he said.
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, was at the council’s open mik session twice in recent months.
He 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.
Carter was at the council’s Aug. 8 open mik session where he presented a petition with nine signatures of residents adjacent to the dog park asking the council to shut down Trackside immediately as a dog park.
And Tuesday night, he described the dog park as a “public nuisance” that was a “huge mistake” and had produced six years of angry e-mails from him to the city.
Tuesday Carter was joined by his wife Valerie and a neighbor, who called a dog park within 50 feet of his front door “excessive.”
But the six other people spoke at the Aug. 8 meeting urging the council to keep Trackside open for dogs.
Nate Kraymeyer, who has lived in the area of the dog park for 10 years, wanted the dog park kept open.
The area was a wasteland before the dog park was created and there is more noise from children and trains than from dogs using the park, according to Kraymeyer.
He has found people using the dog park to be courteous and continued improvements to Trackside have been appreciated, Kraymeyer said.
Steven Johnson, who was part of a group that met with the city to establish a dog park, said he uses it a lot and it has been a good investment by the city.
According to resident Caitlin Vanasse, who takes her dogs to the park frequently, dogs are better behaved at the park than they are at home.
“What we like is the sense of community,” Voss told the council. “It has fostered community more than any other council initiative.”
Parking issues could be addressed through signage, she said.
Randy Ripply, a user of the dog park from Blaine, said the dog park entrance could be moved to get it away from Carter’s property, while another resident agreed with Carter’s concerns about traffic and barking dogs, but called on the council to not close Trackside before finding another location.
Coon Rapids Jackie Ferrar pleaded with the council not to close the dog park.
“I go to the dog park and meet people who are so welcoming, the dogs really enjoy the wide open space and people clean up after their dogs,” she said.
And several of those who spoke Aug. 8 were joined by others Tuesday, plus a large crowd of supporters in the audience to call on the council to keep the dog park open, not just until a new dog park is open, but also to keep it open beyond that, arguing that there would be less traffic then.
One described it as a recreation area not only for dogs, but also dog owners and children.
Trackside Park, which is located at 104th and Hummingbird Street, totals 4.3 acres.
“The dog park has been a victim of its own success,” said Mayor Tim Howe.
Peter Bodley is at firstname.lastname@example.org