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Public input sought on proposed city dog park

A Pony League Football field in Superior's Billings Park neighborhood could become an off-leash dog park in the spring of 2015. The Superior Jaycees plan to partner with the city to build the park, which would rest next to skating rinks, the Bill...

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Stella the Boston terrier, left, and 3-year-old Darcy, a Cavachon, examine the field that could become Superior’s first dog park Wednesday in the Billings Park neighborhood. Behind them are Superior Jaycees, left to right, Amber Pedersen, Craig Banker and Eric Flagstad. (Jed Carlson/jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)

A Pony League Football field in Superior’s Billings Park neighborhood could become an off-leash dog park in the spring of 2015. The Superior Jaycees plan to partner with the city to build the park, which would rest next to skating rinks, the Billings Park Civic Center and the Tim Wicklund Memorial Softball Field.

A public information meeting on the proposed dog park takes place at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the civic center, 3909 N. 18th St.

“We encourage all citizens to come to offer support, ask questions and offer feedback,” said Amber Pedersen, president of the Superior Jaycees.

A dog park has been on the city’s to-do list for some time, according to Mary Morgan, director of parks, recreation and forestry.

“The Parks and Recreation Commission has heard individuals ask for a dog park for about 10 years,” Morgan said.

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Pedersen is one of them. She takes her Boston Terrier, Stella, to the Keene Creek Dog Park in West Duluth.

“Personally, I would be really happy that I could stay in Superior, take my dog there, and not go to Duluth,” Pedersen said.

Superior’s 2010 Master Parks Plan called for a city dog park. The Jaycees proposed the partnership this spring.  It would be, Morgan said, a gift to the citizens of Superior from the civic organization.

The Jaycees have pledged more than $22,000 toward the project to purchase the fencing. The group also plans to adopt the park, hosting clean-up dates at least twice a year. The city would install the fence, build a vestibule area and provide portable toilets, mutt mitts and signs that list park rules. Users will initially have to bring their own water, but Morgan said the city hopes to provide water to the area in the future.

The partners originally eyed Bear Creek Park, but there were concerns about having a dog park so close to the new animal shelter. So they continued to search.

“You name the site, we looked at it,” Pederson said. Many options lacked space or parking. Some had wetland issues. The football field emerged as the top pick. There’s plenty of space, nothing needs to be removed and the area is already crowned - mounded to help with runoff. A number of dog owners already use the area to run their pets.

The city’s Parks and Recreation Commission went on record in favor of the idea last week. It will be brought before the Superior City Council for a vote Oct. 21.

The Keene Creek Dog Park is popular with dog owners of all ages, said dog park activist Denette Lynch of Duluth. It provides recreation and socialization for both four-legged and two-legged visitors.

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“It’s not just about the dogs, it’s about the owners too,” Lynch said.

Morgan said that, if approved, the Superior park would be patterned after the one at Keene Creek, just larger.

“If people are wondering what it’s like, they can come visit the Keene Creek Dog Park,” with or without a dog, Lynch said. “Wander over, walk in and have a seat.”

The Jaycees, a group of men and women ages 21-40, hold community event fundraisers and invest the proceeds back into the area. Past donations have been earmarked for Mentor Superior and Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. This spring, members were seeking a service project that would raise the group’s profile and utilize funds from their annual Gitchee Gumee Brewfest. Partnering with the city on a dog park met both goals and offered a chance to do something positive for the community, Pederson said. The full cost of the fencing is more than they raised at the brewfest. The Jaycees plan to seek community support to raise the remainder of the funds and purchase amenities such as benches and picnic tables.

“If a company came to us and said they would like to put in a bench with a plaque, we’ll take it,” Pedersen said.

For more information, call 715-395-7270. To learn more about the Superior Jaycees, go to the website http://superiorjaycees.org/ or check out the Superior Jaycees Facebook page.

Related Topics: SUPERIOR
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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