City hopes to open dog park in spring

Fundraiser ongoing for proposed facility at Bixby Park

J.R. Hanggi of Hugo takes a break while walking his 14-year-old Siberian husky, Lucky, on the Hardwood Creek Trail Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Clint Riese)
J.R. Hanggi of Hugo takes a break while walking his 14-year-old Siberian husky, Lucky, on the Hardwood Creek Trail Tuesday afternoon. (Photo by Clint Riese)

Clint Riese
News Editor

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.

Plan components

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 or contact Reedy at 651-209-9723 or [email protected]

  • A dog park is not a ‘need’ but rather a ‘want’. I’m willing to bet most of the citizens would prefer that our city council prioritize real ‘needs’ like public safety (i.e. snow plowing better!) over ‘wants’ that only a few of us will use.

    Also, is the park board still in debt to other city funds? Should we really be doing this park when they haven’t finished (or frankly even come close) to the massive project they have by the government center?

    • Eric my biggest frustration with you are you don’t research adequately the issues you repeatedly criticize. If you do you it’s often with some zealous mantra which goes against the standard reasoning even of the same groups you claim to represent. Dog parks are an extension of city parks as in a recreational asset. Study the business structure of pet expenditures in this country. Better yet go over and sit inside South Shore Veterinary Clinic for a few hours. I think you’d be amazed at the family values and the cash for services being exchanged. A dog park is good for the community? No? Yes? And you still refuse to comment on doing away with high school sports and if you feel they should be privately funded, or taxpayer funded.

      Am I being critical of your positions? How can I be? I don’t really know upon what they’re based?

      • Jay –

        What research is it you’d like me to do? A need is something we can’t live without and a want is something that we justify to make life a little more fun… A dog park, or any park for that matter is always a want and not a need. As far as snow plowing, my research has been done by driving through an extensive yet various sections of town. I also said, “I’m willing to bet…” not “I’m certain that this is true…” with regard to a priority list.

        You are being critical of my positions i.e. “Eric my biggest frustration with you…” starting off your rant is proof. Why is it you’re critical of me asking questions? My statements of fact are always based on some sort of fact whereas my opinions are a collective of life experiences, personal beliefs and most importantly, facts.

        What does high school sports have anything to do with a dog park?

        • Rant? Is your vision for your Forest Lake or District 39 look something like the starkness of North Korea? Rant? Parks and Rec (with or without any dog park) a need or a want? School sports, a necessity for good citizen character development of a waste of tax payer dollars?

          Again as to the issue of a false campaign site, yours, if you’re not running for public office and, in the facts you cited, there’s no campaign for the district even on the near horizon? Why does someone tout their positions if there’s no there,…there!? What office are you running for and who has elected you their representative, ad hoc or whatever? Inquiring minds want to know

          • Jay – Get facts straight.

            I already answered your numerous questions about SD39. The website for a past campaign is up and I answered you. It was not a ‘false campaign’ or a ‘false campaign website’.

            I’m not currently elected in public office, not currently running and don’t plan to in the immediate future. Is your intent with your constant rants at me to pass along false information and rumors?