January 18, 2021

Parks and Rec works on budget and regulations for dog park

The Osceola Animal Shelter was the first group to notice a need for a local dog park. They began working with community members to find a location but had a hard time with their budget.

The Clarke County Animal Shelter decided to end their involvement in the effort and turned the nearly $21,000 of Lauren Barker’s memorial Fund raised for the project over to Lauren’s family.  At the family’s request, the City agreed to take custody of the funds and work toward completing the project.  To date, none of the funds that were raised by the animal shelter has been spent.

“The CCDC gave the City money to tear down the old holtel with the expectations that the dog park be placed there,” said Dan Cooper Parks and Rec Supervisor.

The old red hotel east on Highway 34 was taken down via controlled burn by the OVFD in the spring and the land has now been cleared and leveled for the future dog park.

“Dog parks obviously serve a very specific purpose, which may actually be incompatible with how other park spaces are used.  A dog park should be its own separate and distinct space with ample off-street parking,” said Ty Wheeler, City Administrator. “Additionally, dog parks should not be placed in high density residential areas and ideally have enough space for two enclosures to accommodate small dog and large dog users.”

Unrelated to the dog park, the City had an opportunity to acquire the old motel located at 801 E McLane.  Paula McClaflin with Stoney Oak helped put a deal together and the CCDC granted the city $50,000 toward the acquisition and clean up of the property.  It was a great effort by all those involved, including the White family who owned the property.  But during this effort, the idea of placing the dog park at this location was brought up.  It was big enough, accessible, and had many other attributes that made it a good location.  The dog park, which will be called Lauren’s Bark Park, would also make a nice entry into the City.  So the City agreed to locate the dog part at 801 E McLane.

“Over the next few months we will be working on getting prices for fencing and hoping to get a couple benches that can be place inside the fenced park.  We will also have a couple tidy up trash receptacles as well,” said Cooper. “A lot will depend on the cost of the fencing as to what else we can do to get it up and running.  We will also look for some grants to help provide some of these wants as well.”

There is no opening date yet but the City is hoping to start putting up the fence in the fall of 2021. They have more budget and staffing legistics to work out before setting a date.

With no clear opening date in sight there are also no set rules for the park as of yet.

“I have researched some parks in our area to get an idea of what regulations could be from Winterset Parks and Recreation and Indianola Parks and Recreation,” said Cooper.

Park Board will discuss more on these topics in 2021.

“Long term, they may also be an opportunity to connect the park with the East Lake Trail.  That would allow the public to safely walk to the Lauren’s Bark Park with their dog, which is something we would not have been able to accommodate at the other locations we were considering,” said Wheeler.