As City moves forward, public invited to weigh in at event Aug. 4
COVINGTON, Ky. – Water bowls, wagging tails, and wide canine grins are familiar sights throughout the streets of Covington, evidence of a dog-friendly culture where four-footed friends are welcome in many businesses and bars while their humans sip beer or peruse books.
So, it’s no surprise that when Covington Parks & Recreation surveyed residents in 2019 for its10-year master plan aimed at creating a long-term strategy to determine what facilities, activities, and sports residents want to see, topping the list was a designated dog park.
“Every time we did a stakeholder group, the dog park was always among the top three recommendations,” Parks & Recreations Manager Ben Oldiges said. “There’s been a lot of enthusiasm for a dog park in Covington.”
The next step is making the facility a reality.
On Aug. 4, the public will have the opportunity to weigh in on what a well-appointed dog park might look like.
That night, Parks & Rec will host a Dog Park Community Engagement Event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Goebel Park. A brief presentation will take place at 6 p.m., then the public will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on park details. People can stop in at any time during the evening.
Canines are welcome to attend (of course).
“We already know the enthusiasm is high, and the need is high,” Oldiges said. “What we’re hoping to get is a better idea of expectations and what the community is looking for in terms of amenities. When we build this dog park, I don’t want to have it set up and built where it’s not delivering what people’s vision is.”
Oldiges said that while the baseline standards for a dog park are known – it needs a fence, access gates, and a water source – there’s a lot of leeway on design and accoutrements: “What kind of obstacle course does someone have in mind? Is there a design, or shaping of the fence that people might have in mind? What about tunnels? Or seesaws?”
Another question? Location. Or locations.
Oldiges said the City ultimately hopes to build more than one dog park in the City, which currently has none. The first dog park will be located in the MainStrasse Village area, with proposed locations in Goebel Park or Kenney Shields Park.
Others down the road might be on the east side of the City and to the south.
“The entire City is a dog city, so we would like to give everybody necessary access to dog parks,” Oldiges said. “And as far as size, the more space we can get, the better park we can build and the more people will use it.”
The City has $70,000 set aside for the project, which Oldiges said should be enough to build the “bones” of the park – securing space, fencing it in, and building basic amenities like water troughs. To add other amenities, Parks & Rec will seek other funds, including private donations. The $70,000 comes from federal funds and a $10,000 donation from the Northern Kentucky Association of Realtors, Oldiges said.
To process donations, the City joined with the non-profit Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky. To make a gift, go to www.horizonfunds.org
and hit the “donate” button, then identify “Covington Parks Fund” as the recipient and note “dog park” in the “memo” line as the intended use.
Brandstetter Carroll Inc., the consulting firm working with Parks & Rec on the master plan, will be at the Dog Park Community Engagement event and will utilize the feedback they receive that evening.
“We’re going to be breaking ground on this facility by early fall,” Oldiges said. “By next spring, by the time park season opens back up, this should be ready for the public. It’s not one of those things where we’re looking down the road, we’re going to get design work and we’re going to get it done.”
The project, Oldiges said, is considered a “large” one – not in terms of the scope of work and what needs to go into it, but in terms of priority.
He said that city leaders – both managers and elected officials – have been advocating for the park to be built, saying they’ve been contacted by a number of residents.
Of the 7,094 Covington households that responded to the 2019 survey, 6,954 said lack of a dog park was an “unmet” need, and 39 percent of respondents called it a “high” priority, Oldiges said.
“We want to make sure that we do it right and encapsulate the public’s opinion on what they want,” he said.
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