Plans For Shreveport Dog Park Move Forward

SHREVEPORT, LA (AP) — Kyle Ristig can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

         Ristig, the owner of a 4-year-old English Sheep dog and a 6-year-old Bichon Frise, spent a recent evening at Querbes Park and Community Center. He and other dog lovers, city and parish representatives and landscape architect Lloyd Overdyke met there to discuss ideas about how the city's first dog park should look and function.

         Shreveport's dog park has been years in the making. Citizens' efforts to get a dog park date back to at least 2006.

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         The Times’ Alexandria Burris reports the $28,000 pre-design phase kicked off with a long-awaited gathering of dog-loving minds. Last week's meeting forced citizens to consider what they want to do at the park and not necessarily how they want it to look.

         Participants suggested having benches and a pavilion for people to gather and socialize or watch if they have dogs in different areas. They also discussed park rules, the height and appearance of the fence that would surround it and planned using the riverfront and the site's rolling hills as a natural backdrop.

         "I'm even more excited now. We've put our minds together, and we've come up with some great ideas," said Shreveport Dog Park Alliance Director Cynthia Keith. "I like the fact that we concentrated on what you do at a dog park, and we will design it around that as opposed to what do you need in a dog park. That's going to make ours stand out."

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         For Ristig and others, the beginning of the process is delayed gratification.

         "We're making progress toward the eventual construction and completion of the dog park," Ristig said. "It's been a long process and we're can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel."

         Efforts to build the park, in recent years, resulted in months of litigation between Mayor Cedric Glover and the Shreveport Dog Park Alliance. Glover had fought the Alliance over developing the dog park at the Marie and Charles Hamel Memorial Park.

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         Keith sued in March 2013 to force the mayor to sign an agreement accepting $280,000 in funding from the Red River Waterway Commission for the Hamel site. She won, but the mayor appealed.

         Eventually, the Shreveport City Council approved an alternative agreement which protects the city from additional expenses and includes different language from the original agreement.

         The 5.1-acre park will sit between the Stoner boat launch and the Caddo Parish Sheriff's substation. The park will have separate areas designated for large and small dogs, a fence so dogs can roam unleashed and a double-gated entryway.

         The project's construction budget is $280,130, though the actual costs have yet to be determined, said Overdyke. The area's natural topography of rolling hills, shady trees and its riverfront location can be incorporated into the park's design, he said.

         "I would like to see some of that money go to opening up the views of the river," he said. "Why have it on the river if you're not going to be able to enjoy it? There's a trail that will already go pretty close to it, and I think that will really bring people down."

         He said the dog park could be a whole beginning of a series of parks along the parkway.

         For now, he'll translate the ideas offered to paper. Another meeting will be convened, residents will be able to offer more input and a final design will drafted. The construction phase of the project will then go up to bid.

         Overdyke said a goal is to have the park open before Thanksgiving of next year, but that's not concrete.

         "This is the meeting that starts the ball rolling," he said.

         For more information


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