Oakdale plans city’s first dog park

Minnesota Municipal Power Agency recently installed a solar array at North High School as part of the Hometown Solar Grant program. submitted photo

Dog owners eager for off-leash play area for their pets

Next summer Oakdale dogs and their owners could have a new place to run, play and meet new friends. 

After a large show of interest from the community, Oakdale staff and council members are considering adding a new amenity to the city — an off-leash dog park. 

Oakdale owns undeveloped land located on 50th Street North between Helena Road and Heather Ridge Road and city staff and council members are considering turning the 4.6 acre site into a dog park. 

An open house for the proposed park was held at the Oakdale Discovery Center Nov. 16.

“We’re just trying to get a feel now if people like it or not,” said council member Bill Rasmussen.

The site is bordered on three sides by public streets and on the south side by unimproved public right of way. The site currently has a mixture of trees and tall grasses.

Other uses are limited because two crude oil pipelines cross underneath the land. Mayor Stan Karwoski explained that the pipelines, which are at least 8 feet underground, prevent structures from being built over them. 

The features of the dog park are separated into two categories. Initial improvements would include fencing, a vestibule gate, grass trails, seating areas such as picnic tables and benches, a bag dispenser, trash cans and signage. 

Other improvements are optional and will be considered based on popularity. They include a parking lot, woodchip or gravel trails, a drinking fountain and either shade trees or a shelter.

City staff anticipate the park will have the same hours as other city parks, opening a half hour before sunrise and closing a half hour after sunset.

Brian Bachmeier, who is Oakdale’s public works director and city engineer, said that the projected cost would fall between $100,000 and $200,000.

“I would think we would be on the low end of that for fencing and grading,” Bachmeier said.

According to Bachmeier, the Oakdale City Council plans to discuss the project in a workshop in January or February. If the council chooses to move forward with the park, construction is expected to begin next summer.

According to council member Kristen Cici, the council initially considered this site for the Passages of Oakdale project, which would be primarily walking trails, but the cost was higher and it would see less frequent use than a dog park. She said residents have been asking for a dog park and that’s why she has supported the project so much.

“When you have a large capital investment you need to look for the most bang for your buck, so in this case the most users for the least cost,” Cici said.

“We have thousands of dogs in this town,” Rasmussen said, but added that right now many of those dogs are not licensed with the city.

“We want to set it up like Minneapolis where your dog has to be licensed to be able to use it,” Cici said. She explained that with the dog park as incentive, more residents will have their dogs licensed, and the money the city gets from licenses can be used to help maintain the park.

Rasmussen added that an additional concern with allowing unlicensed dogs into the park would be the transfer of diseases if the unlicensed dogs weren’t up to date on their vaccinations. 

Oakdale requires a current certificate of rabies vaccination before residents receive their pet’s license. The annual license process must be completed in person at the Oakdale Police Department, and the fee is $12 for a spayed or neutered pet and $20 for an unaltered pet.


Residents’ reactions

Although no home is within 80 feet of the perimeter fencing, some nearby homeowners were still concerned about the noise and possible smells that would come from the dog park. 

Jim Hackman and several other Heather Ridge Road residents also shared concerns that an existing traffic problem could be exacerbated by the additional traffic drawn by the park. 

Hackman and his neighbors explained that on Heather Ridge Road just south of the potential dog park there is a hill with a curve immediately after, and there have been numerous crashes and near-misses in the area. 

Hackman explained that drivers speed down the road on their way to work and are unable to see the curve, drivers backing out of their driveways or the deer that frequently cross the road.

Hackman added that although he is concerned about the existing traffic problem, he does not mind the idea of having a dog park next to his house.

“With a 50 foot buffer, that’s not bad,” he said referring to the space planned to be left unimproved on the south portion of the site near his home.

Hackman said that after attending the open house his only other remaining concern is the potential excessive barking in the early morning and late evening

Residents who do not live immediately next to the park seem to be generally enthusiastic about the new amenity. Hannah Adams, who has four dogs, said that she has been hoping for a dog park for a long time. 

“I am really excited because it is so close to my house, I could walk to it,” Adams said.

Karwoski noted a “consistent response” from Oakdale residents that they want a dog park in the community. Rasmussen said that overall the park should work out well. 


Aundrea Kinney can be reaches at 651-748-7822 or akinney@lillienews.com.




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