While some may be barking about the cost of having a place to walk a dog, St. Charles Parish officials say there are multiple advantages with the long-sought project.
The three-acre site will not cost the parish anything to acquire, said Parks and Recreation Director Duane Foret. It is owned by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD).
“We plan to enter an agreement with them similar to the ones we have at the bridge parks. Of course this is contingent on DOTD approval,” Foret said. “We have met with them and have no objections from them but they would like to see our plans before giving final approval. Having the park in this location is sensible in many ways.”
The park neighboring the St. Charles Parish Animal Shelter also will beneficial.
“The animal shelter staff will be the ones overseeing the park,” he said. “It will also be beneficial for the animal shelter in that a person who wants to adopt a dog can interact with them in a safe closed in setting off leash to see how the dog interacts with them and other dogs.”
Additionally, the park will be well used being centrally located in the parish and near the Edward A. Dufresne Community Center and neighboring Dr. Rodney R. Lafon Performing Arts Center and ball fields of West Bank Bridge Park, he said.
“This will allow parents who are waiting for their kids who may be in rehearsals or ball practice to bring their dogs to the park and exercise,” Foret said.
Foret said the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) standards and guidelines call for a dog park per every 20,000 residents.
A recent NRPA poll shows 91 percent of Americans believe dog parks provide benefits to the communities they serve, and more than half of park and recreation agencies have at least one dog park.
“It should be noted that this project is something our residents ask for often,” he said.
Councilwomen Mary Clulee and Wendy Benedetto both recently added their constituents want the park and welcomed recently approving the design and engineering for it in the parish.
Foret said the project has been in the recreation department’s master plan for several years. It was originally planned to be on the grounds of the community center, but consider the planned location a better spot.
The council approved $400,000 for design and construction of the park. Once the park is complete, the parish will seek federal and state funds to help enhance and maintain it.
Also, Foret said not to forget the people benefits of a dog park.
“Exercising dogs is the main benefit of course, but there are some additional benefits for families utilizing the dog park,” he said. “For example, the park allows residents to socialize with other dog owners, by regularly exercising their dogs.”
Why a dog park?
- Boise, Idaho, led the nation in number of off-leash dog parks at seven as of 2017.
- Dog parks typically get interesting names to entice bringing their four-legged friends to play like Fort Woof or Overton Bark.
- Park demand is rising as more people become dog owners. Dog parks are the fastest-growing segment of city parks.
- Studies show people find it easier to talk to each other with dogs as the initial focus, breaking down the typical social barriers that make people perceive others as strangers.