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City Prepared to Spend Bond Money to Keep Dog Parks From Going to, Well, You Know ...

This morning, the Dallas City Council's likely to approve spending $718,803 in 2003 and 2006 bond money to build the proposed Wagging Tail Dog Park near Preston Road and Keller Springs; it's Addendum Item No. 4, for those playing along at home. As mentioned last week, though, that was but one of two dog park-related items on last week's Park and Recreation Board agenda: The board also stepped up its efforts to make the city's main existing dog park more comfortable, approving more than $43,000 to fund a strategic plan for improving the The Mockingbird Point Off-Leash Dark Park at White Rock Lake.

Took a few days, but Unfair Park finally caught up with Park and Rec assistant director Willis Winters to discuss the project for the park that was featured in our cover story on dog parks only a few weeks back. Winters says the Mockingbird Point park, originally constructed with money from private donations, has claim to $1 million out of the $4 million in bond funds allocated to White Rock Lake in 2006. At least $200,000 of that $1 million -- which was specifically allocated for improvements to the dog park -- has since been used to fund the current spillway project, Winters says. Which is why it's about time the rest of it went to the dogs.

"Parking is a serious problem," Winters says, and "the condition of the dog areas themselves is very poor in terms of the turf and drainage. They don't have any grass, [and] after it rains, it's a mud pit in both of them."  You won't find any dog-parker willing to argue those points.

He says the $43,000 will go to Jacobs Engineering Group to complete a financial analysis and business plan for renovating the city's main dog park. (Funding for the actual renovations will come from the same bond money; Winters estimates it'll cost between half a million and $750,000.)

While no specifics are set in stone, Winters says they'll be looking at improved drainage systems, larger paddocks, better parking, improved water access for dogs and maybe -- just maybe at this point -- a concession stand, which the Park Department is surely eying for its revenue potential. (Oh -- and someone please tell those engineers new bathrooms for the dog owners would be nice as well.)

Once the $43,000 business plan is approved by the city council later this month, the planning and approval process should take another four to six months. Leave room for competitive bidding on construction contracts, and Winter says construction should begin around this time next year.

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