By Cameron Rasmusson
For its quickly growing reputation as a dog-friendly town, Sandpoint still doesn’t have a park where residents can gather and exercise their pets. Now a group is working with the city to change that.
A new advocacy organization, Friends of Sandpoint Dog Park, is working to mobilize supporters in the effort to establish a local park where dogs can run, socialize and play. Group members Ericka Mattsson and Margie Corcoran encourage dog park supporters to attend the next city council meeting—Wednesday, June 2, at 5:30 p.m.—to demonstrate strong public support for the effort.
“I just want to see a ton of people—(a turnout that shows) overwhelming support and that this is something people want to see,” said Mattsson.
The Friends of Sandpoint Dog Park have their eyes set on converting a portion of Lakeview Park located near the lake and Memorial Field into a friendly haven for dog owners. The logistics of such a transition are relatively simple: It would require perimeter fencing, which the Friends intend to fundraise, and a commitment from pet owners to clean up after their dogs.
“That’s especially important: Dog owners are responsible for picking up after their pets,” said Mattsson. “We as dog owners are responsible for keeping the park neat and clean.”
It’s also a very personal issue for many local residents. Despite having a big yard for her puppy to enjoy, Mattsson said that she often sees him moping around outdoors looking bored and lonely.
“I just thought if he had a friend he would have so much more to do,” Mattsson said.
Corcoran, meanwhile, doesn’t even own a dog, although she said she intends to eventually. She simply sees a dog park as an important community feature that has been missing for too long. She believes it is the next logical step for a town where many local businesses welcome canine visitors.
“Being from Seattle and there being so many dog parks there, I just think it’s a necessity,” said Corcoran. According to Mattsson, the project has picked up momentum quickly over the past few months. Discussions about creating a formal advocacy group began in the late winter and early spring. The first major bout of public outreach occurred, appropriately enough, at the K9 Keg Pull of this year’s Winter Carnival, where group members passed out fliers. They also told council members at a workshop last week they reached out to the neighborhoods surrounding Lakeview Park, informing them of the potential project.
Last week, the city of Sandpoint got involved, inviting project organizers to attend a workshop with council members and Mayor Shelby Rognstad. In under an hour, the workshop attendees were able to discuss logistics, fencing, trails and other pertinent details.
“I think they realize that a dog park is beneficial to everyone in the community,” said Mattsson.
“I felt they were open to listening to us and open to the idea,” added Corcoran.
The next step is for the council to authorize Lakeview Park’s conversion into a dog park. That’s why the Friends of Sandpoint Dog Park are asking supporters to attend Wednesday’s council meeting in a show of support. The organization will also be working toward securing grant funding that will cover the costs of fencing. Should that fall through, Mattsson and Corcoran said the group intends to launch a fundraising campaign. For the Friends of Sandpoint Dog Park, it’s work toward a worthwhile cause.
“There seems to be something for everyone (in Sandpoint), and now this is the little gem that we’re looking for: a place for dogs,” said Mattsson.
Like the Friends of Sandpoint Dog Park on Facebook for regular updates.
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