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Cloquet residents petition for dog park

Jamie Lund

Cloquet resident Cory Martinson presented the Cloquet City Council on Nov. 21 with 330 signatures on a petition to support building a dog park in the city.

Martinson suggested the possibility of using the former Freeman Road garbage dump site for the proposed dog park. The dump was closed in the 1970s and is unsuitable for many uses because of its previous use.

Martinson, also a new member of the Cloquet Parks Commission, was met with some interest and questions by council members, who suggested he proceed with his research but made no promises.

Caleb Peterson said the Parks Commission had supported placing a dog park in the capital plan as a placeholder about five years out, but his department hasn't done any further research.

Ward 4 Councilor Kerry Kolodge pointed out that the council needs to make some tough decisions with its remaining sales tax dollars.

"We've had requests for a new skatepark, specialized pickleball courts and a dog park," Kolodge said. "We need to think about what we can do, what we can afford."

And what would happen if someone got bit by a dog at the park?

"The city's insurance would cover a dog park, the same way it covers other parks," City Administrator Aaron Reeves said.

Many residents who support a dog park in Cloquet already visit parks in Duluth. Duluth has four dog parks, and Superior recently opened one.

Cloquet resident Kristin Hansen visits the Duluth dog parks once a week in the summer.

"I love to take our dog for a walk, then as a reward, he gets to play with other dogs at the park," Hansen said. "I love how he gets so happy around other dogs."

The Pine Journal asked Facebook followers if they would support having a dog park in Cloquet. There were about 80 responses, which were fairly equally divided on their support. The biggest negative reason was the expectation that taxes would go up.

"The 0.5 percent sales tax covers a lot of the park improvements and developments," Martinson said. "The nice thing about a dog park is that once we have a fence, signage, benches, garbage cans and gravel down for a parking lot, we're pretty much done spending sales tax money. We're thinking less than $100,000."

A few residents responded on Facebook that dog owners should just find open land and let their dogs run there. But Cloquet's leash law, City Code Section 8.2.06, states that letting a dog run off leash inside city limits is a petty misdemeanor.

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