The dog park at Keizer Rapids Park is garnering as many complaints as kudos. The dog park, a vision of Keizer leaders and others, was a smash hit when it opened several years ago. Owners socialize with friends as their dogs run free in the dog park.
The park is fenced, one side built for large dogs and the other side for small dogs..
The city built the dog park with the help of volunteer labor and financial donations including a large contribution by Keizer Veterinary Clinic. After only a few years the dog park’s glory has faded. There is no source of running water for the dogs. The grass, what there is of it, is not tended. The odor of dog urine is strong due to the lack of consistent irrigation. Some people have stopped going to the park and instead walk their dogs through Keizer Rapids Park.
Financial donors to the dog park are understandably dismayed by the condition of the park. Some are wondering what has happened to the money that was given specifically for amenties at the dog park.
We can not continue to build things in Keizer and worry about its operation later. There needs to be an operational plan. If the city doesn’t have the budget to maintain the park, then it, the mayor and the city council, should rally the volunteers to achieve what the city can’t: extend water to the park, maintain the grass, provide shade, benches and more.
The dog park has been a gem in the city’s park system. Many days finds the park filled with dogs and their owners. But how long will that be the case if it is not maintaned properly.
Users of the dog park can only look longingly at the manicured landscaping around the Keizer Rotary Amphitheatre, only steps away. The amphitheatre stage and seating is complemented by lush, green, watered grass. That is the result of volunteers who built the venue and spend countless hours and labor to see their creation remains a viable attraction.
If it is not taken care of, the city should consider closing it to the public until it has the money to maintain it; or, until volunteers step up to take care of it themselves.
It would be a shame if it came to pass that the park had to close. Many residents depend on it. It is a social gathering place. It is a wonderful place for dogs to run free and play with other dogs.
The city needs to develop a plan for its future. Park System Development fees should be used to install water for irrigation of the grass and to provide water for its clients—Keizer’s dogs.