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New Dog Park Opens in South St. Louis Neighborhood

April 25, 2009 Events/Meetings, South City 7 Comments

At noon today the Benton Park West Dog Park opened for business — bring neighbors and their dogs together.

The site selected was two city owned lots on the SE corner of Nebraska & Utah (map).  A decade ago one lot was intended as a pocket park for the neighborhood.  Some paving & benches were added.  Without ongoing positive activity, the pocket park attracted a bad element.  The old lot and the adjacent lot were fenced in to create the dog park.

Now neighbors have a reason to come to this corner — to let their dogs play with other dogs off leash.

The two combined lots are 58ft x 128ft.  All but a wedge from the corner is fenced.  The old concrete paving from the pocket park was retained.  There are four benches inside the dog park.

Access is for members only.  Annual membership is only $35 for residents ($15 per additional dog). Not a resident of Benton Park West but want to become a member?  Submit your application (PDF) now.  First memberships go to neighborhood residents but it will soon be opened to others.  The annual fee will be slightly higher for non-residents. Members get the code to the outer gate to the vestibule entry.

I don’t have a pet of any kind.  And when I did it was always a cat.  But I love dog parks.  They have a great way of bringing neighbors together.  They create activity  in places that might otherwise only have illicit activity.

Water is one of the required items.  This fountain serves humans and their doggy companions.  The city has regulations regarding the requirements for dog parks — fencing, surface, water, managing organization, etc.  President of the Board of Aldermen Lewis Reed, when he was 6th Ward Alderman, introduced the legislation to set up the process for dog parks throughout the city.

Reed, above, was on hand for the opening.

Alderman Craig Schmid (left) shakes hands with Bill Byrd (right), President of the Benton Park West Neighborhood Association at the opening.  Schmid used ward funds to help with infrastructure costs.  Newly sworn in 25th Ward Alderman Shane Cohn was present for the opening.  Hopefully we’ll see a new dog park in the 25th ward in the future.

Actually I hope we will see dog parks in every ward, in every neighborhood in the city.  We no longer walk to the local commercial district so neighborhoods need a way to get residents out walking and talking.  Dog parks are one of the best ways to accomplish that.    My congrats to the residents of Benton Park West for making this project happen.

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Currently there are "7 comments" on this Article:

  1. Scooterjo says:

    Benton Park is in the city, correct? Was the dog park built ENTIRELY out of funds provided ONLY by Benton Park residents or were CITY funds also used? Seems to me that if CITY funds were used then ALL city residents should have access to the dog park NOW.
    I can sort of understand a membership fee to help maintain the park but to open it only to Benton Park residents at first is elitist and exclusionary, especially if the park was not funded COMPLETELY by private dollars from Benton Park residents.

     
  2. Remember when we didn’t need “dog parks” to let your dog run and play without people freaking out over it?

    When I was a yound lad (late 1970’s) growing up in Baden, we had an Irish Setter we’d walk over to Hickey Park and turn him loose to run around. It wasn’t long before he’d figured out how to step on the pedal of those old-style cast iron drinking fountains and get a drink whenever he wanted!

     
  3. Jimmy Z says:

    Scooterjo – specialized uses, of any sort, in a public park, is a balance between parochial uses and the greater “public good”. If you use it, it’s a great investment; if you don’t, the expenditure becomes “questionable”, in varying degrees, to different people. Is bocce ball more important than tennis? A dog park more important than a softball field? Natural areas versus groomed areas? Golf courses versus hiking trails? Ultimately, there are no right or wrong answers, just best choices. Dog parks, Frisbee golf and skateboard parks are just the latest in a long line of preferred uses – what warms your heart will probably never be “enough”. This, however, seems to be a net win-win, and there are bigger battles to fight than whether this one use is “elitist and exclusionary” – the same holds true for ANY permitted activity in any park anywhere – it’s the perfect defintion of both pay to play and using public resources to subsidize an activity that private enterprise could also easily provide, only at a higher per-user cost – government is, after all, all about the reallocation of wealth to deliver socialized services!

    [slp — I should clarify too that the original “pocket park” was never an official city park. It was and is a vacant city-owned lot. In the ideal world these would be sold for new construction but using them for dog parks or community gardens is a good alternative to just sitting unused.]

     
  4. Rebecca says:

    ScooterJo,
    This dog park is in the Benton Park West (BPW) neighborhood. Much of the funding came from Aldermanic money. Additional funding and on-going fees (example insurance) and maintenance, are being provided by the neighborhood association. I can see why you feel it should be a city wide available park, but as the article states, the plan is to open up adjoining neighborhoods soon. As a resident as BPW, I can assure you that the level of crime has gone down in the area surrounding the old “Pocket Park” or new dog park, so you could look at it as a way BPW is saving the city taxpayer from funding extra police calls in the area. Not to mention is just looks nicer.

     
  5. Brian S. says:

    Big thanks to the Crips for ruining the water fountain.

     
  6. samizdat says:

    Re: the Crip graffiti on the fountain. Anybody have an angle grinder? There’s your solution. Grind away those idiot tweenie wanna-be’s.

     

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