Dog park at Bunker Hills to open this year

A dog park in Anoka County’s Bunker Hills Regional Park is on track to become a reality this year.

The county is working with the cities of Andover and Coon Rapids on the dog park/pet exercise area, which would be located at the west end of the park, where the two cities border each other, between the county compost site and the Burlington-Northern Santa Fe Railroad (BNSF) railroad tracks.

The Anoka County Parks and Recreation Committee at its March meeting approved a concept plan for development of the pet exercise area.

According to John VonDeLinde, county parks and recreation director, it is hoped that a joint powers agreement between the three agencies will be approved in April.

That will spell out the scope of the project and the cost sharing, both for construction and maintenance, VonDeLinde said.

As proposed, the city of Coon Rapids would be the lead agency on the project preparing the plans and specifications, he said.

The concept plan has an estimated project price tag of $56,111.

But to reduce costs the plan is to have crews from the county and the two cities handle the bulk of the work, VonDeLinde said.

VonDeLinde anticipates going out for bids for the concrete curb work and possibly the fencing, he said.

He envisions bidding the project in June with construction starting in July and completion in time for a Labor Day opening, according to VonDeLinde.

Construction costs would be split equally three ways, so would the operation and maintenance, although it would likely be responsibility of the county, VonDeLinde said.

The dog park will be six acres in size, which is double the size of the county’s other dog park in Locke Park in Fridley.

“That has been very successful,” VonDeLinde said.

A dog park/pet exercise area has been part of the master plan for Bunker Hills Regional Park since 1999, according to VonDeLinde.

But it is has been on the back burner because of other priorities, VonDeLinde said.

However, the interest shown by the cities of Coon Rapids and Andover has brought the project to the forefront, he said.

“It is an ideal location for residents of Andover and Coon Rapids as well as regional park visitors,” VonDeLinde said.

The site in Bunker Hills Regional Park, where the dog park will be located, has been used in the past to store trees that have been downed by storms, he said.

“We will have to find a new location for those trees,” VonDeLinde said.

And the site is not by any residential homes, he said.

The city of Andover does not have a dog park in its community, but Coon Rapids has had a dog park at one of its neighborhood parks, Trackside at 10425 Hummingbird St. N.W., since 2006.

However, some residents living across the street from Trackside have objected to the dog park, most recently last year, which has prompted the Coon Rapids City Council to consider other locations, including the Bunker Hills site.

As part of its proposed park bond referendum for the November election, a dog park on city property in Evergreen Business Park is included among the list of projects.

Tim Himmer, Coon Rapids public works director, was delighted by the action of the county’s Parks and Recreation Committee to approve the concept plan for the dog park.

“That’s great,” he said.

The city of Andover has been drawing up the joint powers agreement, Himmer said.

“We certainly plan to have it open this year,” he said.

When that occurs, the future of the dog park at Trackside Park will be an issue for the council to decide, Himmer said.

Peter Bodley is at peter.bodley@ecm-inc.com

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