Several members of the Washington Dog Park Group addressed the park board during its regular meeting Thursday night with questions, comments and concerns about a dog park in Washington.
About a dozen members attended the meeting.
Julia West, who attended a previous meeting, requested a year-round dog park with shade, fresh water and an environment pleasing to both humans and dogs.
West said the possible location near the wastewater treatment plant was “less than ideal” because of the smell associated with it and because the area attracts mosquitoes, which can pass heartworms to dogs.
West also was concerned about loud noises scaring the dogs.
Another member, Chip Langendoerfer, who owns a fencing company, BSX Inc., offered to donate labor to install fencing, should the city find space for a park.
Wade Swartz requested to set up a 501(c)(3) group to begin soliciting funds for a permanent dog park.
He questioned why there couldn’t be a restroom and pavilion installed at Burger Park, and offered several ideas that might appease both sides.
Because the area is on top of a landfill, park board members weren’t sure what was allowed. However, trees aren’t allowed because the roots could penetrate the membrane covering the landfill.
Darren Dunkle, parks director, said he would look further into what can and can’t be done at Burger Park because of it’s location.
Dan Mohesky, the owner of a large dog, said he would just like space with water and restrooms to train his malamute.
One member spoke to the board as a former law enforcement officer, stressing safety and homeowners insurance. Ron Snelson said the dog park would be beneficial for socialization of dogs and would help dog owners keep their homeowners insurance rates lower because socialized dogs have less of a chance of biting others.
“We answered a lot of dog bite calls,” Snelson said, adding that those were dogs that weren’t properly socialized. “Socialization is key to having a good dog and a good relationship with your dog.”
Snelson said the dog park would help dogs learn how to play and deal with other dogs. Several businesses in Washington, he said, allow him to bring his dog inside, which helps socialize the dog, but a dog park is the best place for socialization.
“Everybody wins if we do it right,” he said. “I think we can bring something to Washington that other cities in the area would love to see, and I think we can do it in a way that brings visitors in.”
Two others who addressed the board said they have been taking their dogs to New Melle’s dog park, Brommelsieck Park.
“I look forward to the day when we can have a full-time puppy park,” said Mary Eigel, who said she visits the dog park several times each week. “It really is socialization for adults as much as for dogs.”
Mark Stettes added that the park could be a showplace for the community.
One teenager, Emily Goree, talked about Brommelsieck Park’s amenities, including a pond, pavilion, benches, a place to clean your dog if he gets muddy, places to spend one-on-one time with your dog and places to socialize.
“I think it would be great if younger people, my age, would be able to have a place to hang out with their dog,” she said. “Many teenagers have dogs now and they don’t choose to hang out with them, they go with their friends and party. It would be nice if they actually had a place. . . where you don’t have to be around all the other teenagers doing all that crap.”
Union’s Dog Park
Another member, Amy Stahl, said she took her dog to Union during the time when Burger Park was closed for soccer season. During her visits, Stahl said she would often eat in Union while visiting the dog park.
“I’m taking my business as well as my dog to Union,” she said, adding that she takes her dog to a dog park almost every day.
Others said Union’s dog park was too small for their dogs.
Park board members agreed that a dog park was a top priority for the board.
“The biggest problem has been finding a place large enough with the things that everyone wants,” said Sparky Stuckenschneider, park board member, adding that Burger Park was never thought of as a permanent park because there are too many restrictions. “I think it’s a top priority of this board. It’s just a matter of finding the space.”
Stuckenschneider said the board had the same problem with the skate park.
Members of the dog park group said once land is found they have the cost of labor covered.
“We are looking for land,” said Tessie Steffens, board member. “That’s why the dog park has been on the agenda over and over and over.”