COOS BAY — Coos Bay officials are considering building a dog park near John Topits Park, after cost estimates for one in Englewood went past $75,000.
The new park proposal involves clearing about an acre of trees at the Hull Street entrance to Empire Lakes. There is parking for the nearby Head Start building and the city-owned land's zoning allows dog parks, said Jim Hossley, the city's public works director. He estimates logging, grading and fencing for the park would cost about $25,000. That number could be lowered if the city can sell the timber, he said.
The city previously estimated it would cost a little more than that to build a park on Old Wireless Lane near Southwest Boulevard. But Hossley has revised his earlier estimates up to a low of $77,000 and a high of $95,000. The city would need to improve the gravel road to allow two-way traffic and Hossley's preliminary price doesn't include the cost of arranging an easement with a nearby property owner. There's also a possibility flooding could wipe out any improvements.
Given the higher cost and flood risk, city officials started looking for other potential sites, which led to John Topits Park, Hossley said.
The city also looked at land next to the Eastside boat ramp, but neighbors don't like the idea of being near a dog park, Hossley said. Similar issues have stymied efforts to build a park on North Morrison Street.
All four park sites face another obstacle: wavering political support. Councilors John Pundt and Stephanie Kramer share reservations about spending money on a dog park. Kramer said she'd heard from residents who questioned spending money on dogs instead of people. She suggested a local dog group could raise the money through fundraisers and the city would provide the land.
Pacific Cove Humane Society President Janet Huggins said she'd support any plan to add a dog park in Coos Bay, but her group needs to focus on its primary goal of building an animal shelter. The group has asked the city for land to build an animal shelter, initially at the Morrison Street site, but neighbors have opposed the idea. City officials told Huggins the John Topits site wouldn't allow for a shelter because of wetland issues, she said.
The group is still looking for property for a shelter, Huggins said. According to the group's most recent financial statement, it has more than $180,000 in assets.
Mayor Jeff McKeown still wants the city to talk with the Oregon International Port of Coos Bay about land in Eastside. He suggested neighbors might be receptive to a dog park if they learned more about it, both in Eastside and on Morrison Street.
"I think we should keep these sites open as possible alternatives," he said.
The port is willing to discuss the idea with the city, said Martin Callery, the port's spokesman. Officials are waiting to hear back from Coos Bay, he said.
The city initially talked of building the dog park on a grassy area east of the Eastside boat ramp's parking lot. Councilor Gene Melton suggested neighbors might be more amenable to the idea if the park were located on the north side of D Street.
Hossley said he'd initially been concerned about the potential for wetlands north of the street, but he's not sure that would be a problem for a dog park.