Parks board mulls new neighborhood dog park

Monday, April 16, 2018 - 10:14
  • Tennis courts near the proposed site of a new Eagle River dog park. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)

A vacant, wooded lot at the corner of Fire House Lane and Eagle River Road may soon be going to the dogs — literally.

“It just seemed like it would be ideal for a dog park,” said Brian Fay, chair of the Eagle River-Chugiak Parks and Recreation Board of Supervisors.

The board is in the early stages of discussing the idea, the future of which depends heavily on community feedback, Fay said. The fenced lot, which is owned by the Eagle River Parks and Recreation department, was once considered as a location for a proposed skate park. It now sits empty, adjacent a secluded tennis court near Eagle River Elementary.

As a resident and member of the board, Fay said he frequently walks local parkland, looking for new uses and missed opportunities. At the Fire House Lane lot, he found one.

“The idea of having a walkable park so close to downtown Eagle River, connected to the trail system, just seemed super appealing to me,” said Fay, himself a dog owner.

There are plenty of canines in the surrounding neighborhood.

“Every day, there’s people that come in here with their dogs,” said Zach Seabolt, a lifelong resident who lives across the street from the tennis courts.

In the winter, he said, the courts already serve as a de facto dog park – a situation that can have messy consequences. Because so many dog owners neglect to pick up after their pets during the winter months, by breakup, the tennis courts are often filled with melting feces.

“There are some people that pick it up, but I’d say the majority don’t,” Seabolt said. “So yeah, it is disgusting in the spring – you can actually kind of smell it.”

A designated dog park at the empty lot next door might help solve the problem, he said.

The plan, still in its early stages, has received general support from area residents. Timothy Ebben, co-owner of the nearby Home Away From Home Inc. K9 Daycare & Boarding, called it a “great use” of the vacant land.

“I think it would be an awesome addition to Eagle River,” he said. “I think it’s very much needed.”

Dog park patrons tend to self-police, Ebben said, and a public space dedicated to Eagle River canines could help reduce the number of dogs running free at tennis courts and other park facilities.

Fay said he hopes to collect further community input via an online survey.

“We want to make sure we got lots of community feedback,” he said. “We’d like to have some conversations.”

Parks and rec staff said the dog park proposal is set for further discussion at a March 13 board meeting.

[email protected]

Facebook comments