Something remarkable has happened for dog parks in Duluth. Not once, but twice in eight days, city of Duluth mini master plans for individual parks included dog parks.
This has never, ever happened before to my knowledge. The need/desire for dog parks has been mentioned in general in parks master plans. But until February 2016 no actual park plan included dog parks.
Our current and in-construction dog parks have all happened through a very time consuming, labor and meeting intensive process all facilitated and pushed by dog park volunteers. It has taken an incredible effort by volunteers to get them approved, funded and built.
On February 4 during the small parks open house the Piedmont Park draft mini master plan included having a dog park in the hockey rink in the summer. Two Harbors has had a very successful summer dog park using a hockey rink and there are several others in the Twin Cities. On February 11 the Quarry Park draft mini master plan included having a dog park and/or off leash dog area in that plan. In 2007 The city of Duluth passed an ordinance and resolution for several specific trails to be legalized for off leash use but nothing has ever happened with that. Having these dog parks/off leash areas in the official park planning could be instrumental in seeing that these plans can actually come to fruition.
Getting public city recognition for dog parks in these plans shows that the city is finally recognizing the value of dog parks. This is a huge accomplishment.
This process has been hard fought for more than a decade. This shift would not have happened if it weren't for the persistance of dog park supporters who have discussions with city staff and administration. Supporters have sent emails to park staff, park commissioners, city council members and city administration. People have sent online comments and spoken at meetings. More than 500 people signed petitions in support of dog parks. All of these individual efforts have made a change in how the city of Duluth looks at dog parks. Sending emails, commenting online, speaking at meetings all makes a difference. Thanks to everyone who stepped up to help make this happen.
Having dog parks in the draft plans won't magically make them happen. It will take dog park supporters to let the city know you approve of the plans so they continue to be included when the plans move forward in the planning and approval process. I will post when the plans are online for comment. It will also take volunteers to assist and support the process and provide funding. But the fact that dog parks are being included in actual planning is a HUGE step forward.