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Letter: City should pause dog park project, review plans

Niles Rosenquist
Evansville Courier & Press

At its Sept. 20 meeting, the Evansville Parks Board gave approval to a private group to construct a three-acre dog park on city park land adjacent to the State Hospital grounds.

The facility (pavement, fences, building) would be privately funded and with paid memberships required on most days.

Planning for this dog park goes back nine years, with the original proposed location at Roberts Park (essentially a vacant lot) then moved, due to infrastructure limitations, to the current proposed location, a beautiful, well-established green space that is already popular and well used by a variety of residents for a wide range of activities 鈭 walking, running, bicycling, dog walking. playing with children and just sitting on the grass enjoying the quiet.

Regular users of the area will recall a 鈥渃oming soon鈥 sign in the park three or four years ago. It was eventually taken down when the date on the sign came and went.

In late 2022 the Parks Department released the results of an extensive public survey, online and from public meetings, which included responses to the question, 鈥淚 would like to see the Evansville Parks and Recreation Department add the following things."

From 1,083 responses, a total of 20 facility types made the list. Popular choices included passive green space, trails and paths, benches, garden/arboretum, all would be negatively impacted by the dog park. Notably,聽鈥渄og park鈥 did not receive enough support to even make the list.聽鈥淪huffleboard鈥 did better.聽 Why ask residents to participate, and then ignore the results?

Now the plan is to break ground in the next few weeks. Why now? What is the hurry after nine years?

  • Before a city election where the condition of and future of our parks is an important part of the discussion?
  • Before the new administration, which will have ultimate responsibility, has a chance to review the project?
  • At a time when the city is beginning to make infrastructure investments in Roberts Park, the original preferred location?
  • And just before winter weather is likely to interrupt outdoor construction anyway?

This project needs to be paused to allow the next administration to do a thorough review, with updated input from the public.

Niles Rosenquist, Evansville