The city of Medina expects to add 418 households to its population during the current explosion of new housing developments, and new residents will include dogs as well as humans.
This would mean that, in the near future, 2,120 households in Medina could have 1,200 dogs, if national dog ownership ratios apply in Medina, according to the Medina Park Commission.
Ellis Olkin and other Park Commission members are suggesting that Medina get ready for the canine influx by incorporating concepts for two dog parks into the city’s comprehensive park plan. One park would be for dogs weighing 25 pounds or fewer and the other for dogs weighing more than 25 pounds. The two parks are likely to be on open, grassy areas surrounded by fences. Two gates would be at the main entrance to each park, so dog owners could remove leashes and know that dogs are not likely to escape while running free.
The Medina City Council agreed with Olkin after hearing his presentation about dog park concepts at the Tuesday, Sept. 3, regular council meeting. The council directed Medina staff to work with the commission on including dog park concepts in the comprehensive park plan.
The council vote was not unanimous. City Councilor Jeff Pederson said he was concerned about costs, added staff time and city liability for injuries. After hearing replies to his questions, he decided to vote “no.”
Pederson encouraged the City Council to not rush city staffers, who are busy working with developers on planning for single-family home subdivisions.
“With all of the development that is going on, I don’t think we’re ready,” he said.
City Councilor Melissa Martinson said that the soonest that dog parks would appear in Medina’s budget would be 2015, and Pederson answered, “I don’t think we can afford it.”
Olkin said that siting a dog park on an open, grassy area would minimize the maintenance involved. He estimated total expenses at $7,000 per year at most. He had noticed that cities smaller than Medina have dog parks.
Olkin added that the Park Commission has looked at several potential sites, which currently are vacant lots. The cost to acquire the lots would be “very little.” He also called dog parks the “up and coming thing” in the United States. And dog park users usually sign waivers of liability for injuries.
He asked for city councilors’ opinions on the dog park idea so that commissioners would know whether were wasting time on the issue.
City Administrator Scott Johnson said Medina staffers have not looked at the dog park issue and would have to research maintenance costs.
Mayor Liz Weir said that lately many new homes in Medina are being built on small lots, and families with big dogs are moving in. These large canines will need places to run. Eight years ago a resident asked her when Medina would have a dog park.
She added that including a dog park in Medina’s long range planning does not imply commitment to the idea, so it would not harm the city to include it in its comprehensive park plan.
The City Council also took up other business.
The City Council:
APPROVED Medina’s preliminary 2014 general fund budget and property tax levy. (See separate story in last week’s newspaper).
APPROVED a letter awarding Sunram Construction the low bid of $49,150 for removing vegetation from the Lake Independence outlet channel. Medina would split vegetation removal and administrative costs with the city of Independence, Three Rivers Park District and the Pioneer Sarah Creek Watershed District.
APPROVED Medina’s application to the Minnesota Board of Water and Soil Resources for a Clean Water Fund matching grant. The money would pay for much of the cost of storm water improvements and sediment and nutrient removal in the Tower Drive area of Hamel.
APPROVED a storm sewer improvement tax district for The Enclave of Medina Fifth Addition, located on the north end of The Enclave of Medina single-family housing development at Hunter Drive.
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