Fundraiser ongoing for proposed facility at Bixby Park
Pet-lovers are getting their chance to bring a long-sought amenity to Forest Lake. The Park Board is trying to raise $26,000 for a dog park that would be installed this spring at Bixby Park.
The off-leash facility would open as soon as weather allows for a fence to be put up. A current, gravel road extending west of Second Avenue Northwest would lead to a parking lot. The square plot includes open land and trees, and a gate on the back side would provide access to a pond.
Park Director Renae Reedy said the need for a dog park has been raised for years, but an informal petition signed by several hundred residents greased the wheels for this effort.
“We’ve been talking about it since I started working here,” Reedy said. “I’ve lived in other towns with dog parks and wondered why we didn’t have one in the past. They’re a nice feature. They’re not just for dogs; they’re for people with dogs. From what I’ve seen in other cities, dog parks are probably the most social and regularly used parks in terms of adults.”
Steve Goedeke, who circulated the petition at local animal hospitals, is thrilled to see the concept moving forward.
“If you want to promote health in the community, what a terrific way to do it,” he said. “Forest Lake would benefit from more community. It’s a great thing.”
Besides walking his golden retriever on a path by the airport in Forest Lake, Goedeke often visits dog parks in White Bear Lake and Blaine. Noticing the traffic generated at those rural dog parks, Goedeke believes a facility here could be a small boon for the local economy. Bixby Park’s proximity to the freeway could draw in travelers looking for a pet pit stop, he added.
A larger dog park is included in the Bixby Park Master Plan, a long-range vision unveiled by the Park Board in 2012 featuring multimillion-dollar improvements to transform the undeveloped park and former compost site into a regional destination. The currently proposed dog park would sit adjacent to lower land contemplated for an expanded dog park.
“We just thought, since there’s such a huge interest in a dog park in this town, that we’d get something up for pets and owners, and later on, as fits the park’s development, make it bigger and better,” Reedy said.
But donations are needed before fence posts can be driven. Reedy started the campaign in the fall by reaching out to local pet-related businesses. The main result was a donation of $2,000 by Forest Lake Veterinary Hospital. Now, the public is being asked for tax-deductible donations. The Park Board does not have funds to contribute at this time, but it might if it receives park dedication fees from development.
Fencing is the main cost. The rest of the $26,000 estimate would cover a gate, picnic table, signage and dog waste stations.
Donors will be recognized with a display at the dog park. Those interested in giving can download a donation form at www.forestlakeparks.net or contact Reedy at 651-209-9723 or [email protected]