Dorothy Hatch said her golden retriever, Cassie, has been wondering two things since the pair moved from Arizona to Coeur d’Alene in 2005.
“Where’s my pool, and where’s the dog park?”
At least one of those demands could be resolved by fall, the earliest date by which the city’s first dog park could open. The Coeur d’Alene School District has granted preliminary approval for use of two acres near the intersection of Atlas and Nez Perce roads, on the city’s north side. The land has been identified as a future elementary school site, but it could be used as a dog park for a year or two, said Brian Martin, the district’s facilities director.
“There’s really no place to take your dogs,” Martin said. “That’s why we were so supportive.”
The land is just north of and adjacent to the city’s Northshire Park, which offers parking, restrooms and irrigation lines that could be used to provide water for the dogs, said Doug Eastwood, the city’s parks director. The city and school district are working on an agreement that will allow volunteers to develop the land into a dog park, he said.
Surveys conducted for the parks department’s master plan showed a dog park was one of the top three amenities requested by residents, Eastwood said.
“Most folks recognize that the time for a dog park has come, even if we can do it temporarily,” he said. “Even the non-dog owners responded very positively that a designated off-leash dog park was a great idea.”
Longer term, the city and Kootenai County are planning to develop a dog park on county land south of the Ramsey Road transfer station. That space will also be home to a new Kootenai Humane Society headquarters one day, Eastwood said. But because that project will be expensive and complicated, the city is working with volunteers to create the temporary park.
The volunteer group Kootenai County Dog Park Association is meeting weekly and seeking donations of cash, services and products. The group intends to fence the park, including a separate space for small dogs; double-gate it so owners have a place to remove leashes; install watering and waste stations; and create paths.
Eastwood said the city is donating surplus fencing and dog waste bag dispensers, along with benches. Parks workers are contacting tree service companies to inquire about chip material for paths, and the city’s urban forester has secured shade trees, Eastwood said.
But volunteers still need material to sink fence posts, extend a concrete walkway and create the gated entrance. They need to design an irrigation system and will need volunteer labor.
“People think it’s a done deal,” said Bob Macdonald, who has led the charge for the park. “They don’t realize we need some money coming in before we can do it.”
Eastwood said work can’t begin until the park agreement goes through the public process, which will probably extend into June. After that, the site will be graded, the fencing installed and the irrigation system put together.
The earliest the park would open is September, Eastwood said. “We’ll help out wherever we can,” he said.