Keizer’s dog aficionados will have to find somewhere else to let their four-legged friends run free this fall. (KEIZERTIMES/Jason Cox)

By JASON COX
Of the Keizertimes

The dog park at Keizer Rapids Park will temporarily close for renovations starting Saturday, Sept. 25.

The amenity has proven to be one of the park system’s most popular amenities. But wear and tear have taken its toll on the young park, to the point where a group of volunteers led by Clint Holland are planning full-scale irrigation and grass seeding in the park.

Holland said he doesn’t expect the large dog park to be closed more than a week or so.

The city has contributed $19,000 in parks system development charges for the project.

Parks Supervisor Terry Witham said the small dog park will remain closed until spring of next year.

“Basically we just had a lot of complaints about the state of the grass, it’s muddy or it’s dry,” Witham said.

The small dog park, while closed, will be seeded in the hope more grass will remain. Irrigation lines will be installed throughout much of the dog park – but as of yet, there’s no water line there to hook into.

The city of Keizer plans to extend a water line through to the park, but how that will happen depends on whether the city is able to annex adjoining land into the city and purchase it.

“We feel like if we wait until the spring to do the main line, the water line, we may be able to do it through that annexed area, which would make it less expensive,” Witham said. “We, without a doubt, wouldn’t be using the irrigation this fall anyway.”

The southern portion of the park – that’s the part closest to the parking lot – will be filled in with decomposed granite “to alleviate the mud, dirt and those kinds of things,” Witham said. “… It’s not a real hard surface on a dog’s feet.”

As for the small park’s closure, “We’re going to keep it closed until we feel the grass is solid enough to allow dogs on it. That could be March; it could be May.”

Discussion at Keizer City Council on the issue centered around how the city’s park staff – already stretched – will handle the added maintenance.

“When we add irrigated grass areas, it’s going to up the mowing,” Witham said. “Instead of mowing it every other week we’ll have to mow it every week. I’ve been assured by many people that there will be volunteers to do that.”

Holland plans to use tall fescue grass.

“It requires a little less water, a little rougher, the blades are a little wider, which means it can take a little more of a beating,” Holland said.