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Public Input Wanted On Possible Shaw Dog Park

Clayton BOA votes 4-3 for $6,500 resident survey

Clayton residents will be asked to weigh in on the possibility of using green space at Shaw Park for a dog park. photo by Diana Linsley (click for larger version)
June 03, 2011
The Clayton Board of Aldermen has authorized a survey to gauge resident feelings about a possible dog park to be located at Shaw Park. However, even before it has begun, the survey has raised issues about cost, green space and the already lengthy examination of a city dog park.

At its May 24 meeting, the aldermen authorized the survey with a 4-3 vote. It will be conducted by the firm ETC, which has conducted resident surveys for the city in the past. It will cost the city $6,500.

City Manager Craig Owens told the aldermen that city staff researched the cost of such a study, and that they had received proposals from two other firms besides ETC. The most expensive of the other bids was for $10,000. Conducting the survey was being recommended to the aldermen by the Parks and Recreation Advisory Commission.

Clayton has been considering a dog park, where dog owners can let their pets run and play unleashed, to one degree or another dating back to at least 2007. The city also has a dog park task force. In January 2010, a number of residents appeared before the aldermen, expressing their support of a park.

Over the past several years, city staff and park supporters have looked at various places for a possible park, such as in Oak Knoll Park or Concordia Park, but for various reasons, such as lack of parking or concerns from nearby residents, none of those options have been deemed appropriate.

During those discussions, Mayor Linda Goldstein has indicated that a dog park is something that would be a positive for the city, but a major factor preventing it was a lack of appropriate park space. Prior to the vote, Goldstein and others expressed some concern about the survey, as well as the long process, suggesting that whatever the survey shows, that may be the key point in determining the future of the park once and far all.

"I have struggled with this," said Goldstein. "Personally, I feel like it has been difficult to decipher the sentiment (of residents). We have had about 1,500 who have come out in favor of it, but that leaves about 15,000 that we don't know where they stand. $6,500 is a lot of money to spend after all of the staff time that has already been used to investigate various locations, and we have already spent a lot more than $6,500. I feel we need to make a decision and move on. It's time for us to move on, either we do a dog park or we do not."

Goldstein told the board that she had recently received an e-mail from former Mayor Ben Uchitelle, who is a member of the dog park task force. She said Uchitelle indicated that the task force was opposed to spending the $6,500 for the survey, and that the group was proposing a six month trial period first. Goldstein also said that the task force has gone on record that should a dog park be created somewhere in the city, that the group would fund a "significant portion of it."

Third Ward Aldermen Mark Winings was a member of the parks commission suggesting the survey, and supported it himself, but also had reservations.

"The cost is higher then I would have hoped or guessed it would be," said Winings. "I would not imagine supporting a dog park in Shaw Park, temporary or otherwise, unless a well done survey shows wide support for one."

Another issue mentioned by several aldermen is that Shaw Park is considered a "regional" park, which draws over 300,000 users a year, and that adding a dog park would lead to over-use of the park, and would take away green space. Over the last several years, the city has conducted updates to both its parks master plan, and its central business district master plan. Both of those updates included possible renovations and upgrades to Shaw Park.

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