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Helmut Schmidt, Published July 29 2009

Fargo city commissioner proposes dog park for downtown but finding a site may be difficult

FARGO – A proposal to build a dog park near downtown Fargo was met with caution Wednesday by a Park District subcommittee, as land issues in the built-up area arose as a potential bone of contention.

Brad Wimmer, a downtown businessman, proposed to the Facility Committee that a dog park could be sited on Fargo School District land on the north side of Hawthorne Elementary, on one of the two softball diamonds at Dill Hill just south of Island Park, or in one of the open spaces in Island Park.

While the proposal perked up some ears, the reaction to it varied from howls of protest from the School District, to growls of worry from Park District staff.

Dan Huffman, the School District’s assistant superintendent for business services, said the district has limited play space at the school, and that the activities of children and a dog park “are mutally exclusive.”

A proposal by Wimmer to have the dog park only be used after the school day and on weekends was also seen as unworkable by Huffman and Park Board members.

Park District staff said a dog park would need one acre for large dogs and a half acre for small dogs.

Dike East or Dike West were dismissed for lack of space or flooding concerns.

Park District Executive Director Roger Gress and other staff said the Dill Hill softball fields are regularly in use. Also, empty spaces in Island Park already attract other uses, from tanning to bike polo.

Two areas that may have space are just northeast of the downtown proper, Gress said. They include areas in either Oak Grove Park or Wildflower Grove Park, both in the Oak Grove neighborhood.

Committee members agreed that staff should study the issue further.

For more details, see Thursday' Forum