A small group is looking for supporters to help create a recreation area for dogs and their owners in Redwood Falls.
Although Matt Sullivan has lived in the Redwood area most of his life, he’s never actually owned a dog here until about six months ago.
“We live over on the southwest side of town, so if we want to take our dog to the park, geographically, we have to cross the river to get to the tank park by the lake,” he said.
That got Sullivan thinking. On the last Fourth of July, Sullivan and family went up to Duluth for a getaway.
There he discovered a huge dog park, a fenced-in area about as large as a football field where people could take their dogs to roam without leashes.
“I came home with dog parks on the brain,” Sullivan joked.
Several months ago Sullivan discovered Marshall also has a dog park, which strengthened his resolve.
“If Marshall can have a dog park, we should have one,” he said.
As a first step to see if anyone else was interested in setting up a Redwood Falls dog park, Sullivan set up a Facebook page (search “Redwood Falls Dog Park”).
One of the first people to find the page was RVMS teacher Cindy Collins.
“We take our dog for walks by the nature center next to the high school,” she said. “A dog park is something that had been in the back of my head ever since we saw one in Sioux Falls.”
“It was divided into two sections, one for big dogs, one for little dogs,” she said.
Sullivan said he believes there are currently 578 dogs licensed in the city.
“In America, half of all households have dogs, so Redwood by average should have about 750 dogs,” he pointed out.
Sullivan suggests the large grassy lot on E. Tin Street would work well.
“It already has a walking path next to it,” he pointed out. Also, with the housing that has sprung up next to that lot in the past 10 years, it would be an ideal spot for further development such as a playground for children.
Sullivan said ideally the dog park would be managed by the city, possibly by the parks and recreation department.
“We’d be looking for them to set up fencing and maybe some landscaping like a path and trees,” Sullivan said.
Collins added there are currently green spaces being maintained by the city anyway, so all that would be needed would be fencing.
Sullivan acknowledged that neighbors could have legitimate concerns.
“People not picking up after their dogs, noise, dogs getting loose,” he ticked off. “I still think it’s a good idea to promote better health and recreation for dogs.”
Turning a dream into a reality means building up community support.
Sullivan and Collins started on Oct. 15 when they approached the Redwood Falls City Council to present their idea.
The council was tentatively encouraging about letting the Friends of the Dog Park keep developing plans, and recommended Sullivan talk to the Parks and Rec Department next.
After that, form a committee and look for funding, either in the form of grants or group fundraisers.
“The city licenses 578 dogs a year? I would be willing to pay an extra $10 a year to have a city dog park,” Sullivan said.
“If we could get a dog park in two years, that would be ambitious, but if you want to accomplish something, you can’t sit around and wait for someone else to do it.”