COOS BAY -- A new effort to create a dog park in the Coos Bay/North Bend area has all four paws on the ground.
What began as his own question about why there isn't a dog park turned into a grassroots effort to create one, said Bill Davis, the group's de facto spokesman. About 35 people attended the group's first meeting, said Davis, who owns two dogs. A second meeting was held Friday, and Davis has spoken at both a City Council and a Parks Commission meeting.
The idea of a dog park was tossed around a few years ago without success. The new group is working to raise awareness and support for the idea. The park would be fenced to allow dogs to run unfettered, and a smaller fenced area could provide safety for small dogs. Rules would be posted at the gate, and dog owners would take on personal responsibility.
None of the parcels suggested during the previous effort panned out, either because of topography or because of neighbors' concerns, said Jim Hossley, the city's Public Works and Development director. Two years ago, the City Council offered $25,000 in seed money to any people willing to make up the difference necessary to put together a park. No one stepped up, Hossley said, but that doesn't meant this group couldn't convince the council to extend support again. 'But at this point there are no funds available," he said.
Dog parks also are slated to be part of the conversation for a master parks plan, Hossley said. The Parks Commission is at the beginning of the process, and Hossley estimated it will take months to complete and will include extensive public input.
Davis said the group is ready to work with the city no matter how long it takes to accomplish the goal.
'Yeah, it might take a little while," he said.
'But I didn't get the impression that that was going to stop anybody from wanting to go forward with it," he added.
One possible location is a narrow parcel of about an acre near the main entrance to John Topits Park, Hossley said. But it's less than ideal, because it's covered in trees and brush and might need fill dirt.
Davis said his group is open to any location in Coos Bay or North Bend. Using a portion of an existing park or even private land are all possibilities, he said.
A safe place for dogs to run would affect more than just dogs, said Isabelle Davis, Bill Davis' wife.
People traveling with dogs want a place to let them run, she said.
'If we want to push tourism, a dog park is an asset," she said.
Neighborhoods could see fewer stray dogs, too. 'If the dogs are in a fenced play area, they're not on your street," she said.
The Davises acknow-ledged that a few issues will need resolving, including maintenance and the clean-up and disposal of dog waste.
'The biggest problem is that people will have to pick up after their dogs," Bill Davis said.
The less people clean up after their dogs, the more time city employees will have to spend maintaining the park, taking away from maintenance on other parks, Hossley said. Regardless, another park means more maintenance, and expenditures, he added.
An association of volunteers could help with some of the long-term maintenance and costs, Isabelle Davis said.
For more information, email bayareadogpark@ yahoo.com or find the group on Facebook.
Reporter Alice Campbell can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 235, or at acampbell@theworldlink. com.