by Dennis Dalman
Energy and optimism abound among the 30 or so members of the Sartell DogPAC, which is a tongue-in-cheek double play-on-words (“pack” and “political action committee”) for “Dog Park Committee.”
DogPAC has its own facebook page: www.facebook.com/SartellDogPAC.
Within just a couple of months, the idea for a dog park in Pinecone Central Park has generated lots of enthusiasm from many pet owners. They are currently raising funds, seeking ideas and working hard to spread the word. DogPAC will work in tandem with the City of Sartell to create a dog park, hopefully by mid-summer.
Plans for the dog park involved a fenced-in, controlled area where unleashed dogs and their owners can roam free, play games and have lots of fun. The park may be divided into areas for smaller-sized dogs as well as larger ones. There will also be water stations and sanitary stations for disposal of dog waste. In the long-range, plans call for walking trails and agility areas.
The proposed site is located just east of the road that runs through Pinecone Central Park.
Organizers also plan to host events in the dog park, including dog-obedience lessons, classes about pet care, structured recreational activities for dogs and educational programs to promote responsible dog ownership.
The fundraisers are trying to raise about $150,000 to start the park. The fence will cost about $10 per linear foot. It is a 7-acre site, but if a pond there is added and fenced in, the site could be as large as 8 or 9 acres. The City of Sartell has committed to pitching in $10,000 for the dog-park effort, along with the land for it. Sartell City Planner/Developer Anita Rasmussen and Sartell Public Works Director Brad Borders will work closely with organizers in making the park a reality. The park plan will be considered by the park commission when it meets June 26. It will then come before the city council in July.
Rasmussen said she has rarely seen the kind of gung-ho enthusiasm and optimism as evinced by members of DogPAC.
One of the DogPAC members is Mark Dockery, who moved with his family from Kimball to Sartell two years ago. When Sartell City Council member Amy Braig-Lindstrom told Dockery about the possibility of a dog park, he was hooked immediately. It would be an ideal place for his beloved Jack, a 7-year-old Airedale, to romp and play.
“I firmly believe this is going to be a wonderful addition to Sartell,” Dockery said. “I have been very impressed with the folks I have met in Sartell and joined the dog-park committee for the opportunity to get to meet some other folks, particularly the dog lovers like me.”
Currently, every Monday, dog-park organizers greet the public at the community tent at Market Monday, the Sartell farmers’ market that is open from 3-6:30 p.m. every Monday just outside of Sartell City Hall. The organizers have been distributing information about plans for the park and the many ways people can contribute to its success.
There will be a DogPAC contingent in the Sartell SummerFest Grand Parade, which will start at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 8 along Sartell’s Riverside Avenue. Anyone wishing to bring a dog to walk along with the DogPAC contingent is welcome.
Here are five ways people can contribute to the construction and maintenance of a Pinecone Dog Park.
1. Contribute money.
2. Give equipment or in-kind donations.
3. Volunteer to serve on a committee to pursue the following needs: planning, park rules and regulations, ongoing fundraising and public relations.
4. Start a DogPAC donation bucket at a place of business or other location. So far, there are donation buckets at Advanced Care Pet Hospital and at Market Monday.
5. People can buy a paver stone in the name of a special pet or friend.
For more information about ways to donate, visit the DogPAC facebook page mentioned above. People can donate money directly on the facebook page by clicking on the “Donate” tab on the upper left of the site. People can also send checks written out to Sartell City Hall (be sure to put Dog Park Fund” on the check’s memo line). Those checks can be dropped off at Sartell City Hall or sent to Sartell City Hall, 125 Pinecone Road N., Sartell, MN 56377.
To donate in other ways, people can peruse the DogPAC facebook or they can email or call Anita Rasmussen at Sartell City Hall. Rasmussen is the city’s point contact for the dog-park project. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 320-258-7306.
Besides donations of time, money and equipment, organizers also seek ideas and suggestions as to what kind of amenities should be in a dog park.
Among the DogPAC mission statements are these:
• A dog park will be a clean, safe place where dogs and owners may have fun without endangering people, property or wildlife.
• Organizers will develop a beautiful, well-maintained space for dog lovers and others willing to abide by the park’s rules and regulations.
• The project will be an ongoing partnership with the City of Sartell.
• The site will be an ideal place to hold education, training and recreational activities that encourage responsible dog ownership. Volunteers and professional dog trainers will be guest speakers during the special classes and activities.
• The park classes and special events will try to help create community awareness of animal-welfare issues.
Some of the enthusiastic comments on the DogPAC facebook site are these:
“Hey, Sartell, did you hear? It’s coming! Pinecone Central Dog Park. Opening soon!”
“Dogs lift our spirits and brighten our world.”
“Be the hero your dog thinks you are. Join us and your friends, neighbors and colleagues in supporting dog-park efforts today.”
To see more comments, visit the website at www.facebook.com/SartellDogPAC.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.