CASPER, Wyo. — The City of Casper owns some property behind Rocky Mountain Oncology on the east side of town at 1800 East K Street.
The city council has been discussing converting that space into a dog park in recent months. In November 2019, Casper Parks and Recreation Director Tim Cortez provided the council some estimates on costs.
During that meeting, the council indicated an unwillingness to spend too much on large amenities or improvements.
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The topic came up again during the council’s Tuesday, Jan. 14 meeting. Cortez gave the council some estimates on what creating a dog park with more modest amenities would cost.
After their discussion, the council indicated they’d like to move forward on a proposal to develop the park with minimal amenities for $108,000.
They decided to wait for city staff to prepare final cost estimates and identify a source of funding before moving forward on a proposal to create pilot “pocket” dog parks.
The developer who provided the space to the city also gave $100,000 toward creating a public park in the space.
With an additional $25,000 from the city, a dog park with fencing, three water features and electrical services for the features could be created, Cortez said in a memo.
He added during the meeting that the water features would be intended to ensure the water in the pond at the space keeps circulating so that animals wouldn’t get sick from the formation of algae.
The three water features cost about $10,000 each, and Cortez said at least three are needed to churn the water in the pond.
He said that an asphalt pathway leading into the park could also be constructed for about $20,000, something that might be desired given the soil in the area.
“I do think the pathway is kind of necessary,” Vice Mayor Khrystyn Lutz said, pointing to seasonal weather conditions in Casper.
Lutz said this didn’t necessarily need to be asphalt, however, and said she’d be okay with a suggestion to compact the dirt offered by Councilman Bob Hopkins.
Cortez said that compacted dirt pathways is something that hasn’t been done in his time at the city and couldn’t give an immediate estimate of what that would cost.
Mayor Steve Freel asked if the fenced in area could be reduced to cut back on the costs. Cortez said that that was an option available.
However, Cortez said creating an area smaller than a half acre for small dogs or one acre for large dogs is generally not recommended in the literature on dog parks.
Cortez said that vinyl-coated six-foot fence with a concrete base could be installed for about $65 per linear foot. That translates to about $27,000 needed to enclose a half-acre area.
Councilman Charlie Powell pointed out that the recommendation Cortez presented on Tuesday was significantly lower than what had been proposed in November.
“I think $20,000 is a relatively small price to pay,” he said.
When asked what he thought should be done, Cortez said he didn’t have any particular preference, though he did caution the council to be aware of “mission creep.” He said that once a park is created, the council may expect to hear calls from the public to implement further improvements.
Councilman Ken Bates said he is in favor of the option pictured below:
However, others on the council indicated a preference for a proposal that would create a smaller fenced in area, but include the proposed pathway. That would bring the cost to about $128,000.
Freel said that he’d like to see an exact estimate with a pathway added into the plan before indicating a commitment to that plan. He suggested council give staff direction to move forward on the plan with the fencing and not with the path included at this time.
If that proposal is followed, the cost would be about $108,000 total. Council indicated support for this proposal, though they asked Cortez to come back with more final cost estimates.
During the November meeting, the council also discussed creating “pocket” dog areas within some existing city parks.
Cortez introduced a proposal to create “semi-permanent” pocket dog parks in some city parks. That would allow the city to gauge the impact of creating such spaces on the parks before council creates permanent pocket parks.
The council indicated that they would hold off on the pocket parks, though some members were in favor of moving forward on it.
“I like it,” Councilman Charlie Powell said. “We’ll get a sense of if it will kill the grass and then we can move it.”
“To me this is an experiment, a relatively inexpensive experiment.”
Councilman Ray Pacheco also said he was in support of this proposal, but asked where funding would come from.
Since the proposals discussed on Tuesday are not items included in the city’s current budget, City Manager Carter Napier said he’d need to look into that. He suggested using One-Cent funds for the proposals.
Cortez provided estimates for creating pocket parks inside of both PV Park and City Park.
Bates suggested looking into a proposal to add a pocket park at City Park and hold off on the one in PV.
“I think you put this on hold,” Freel said, suggesting the council first move forward on the east side dog park and wait on the pocket parks.
Bates said he would be okay with holding off on the pocket park proposals so long as council eventually create some sort of grassy spaces for dog owners to play with their animals off leashes.
“I don’t want to see us push it all the way to next year or next council,” he said.
Lutz said to wait for the budget responses from city staff before indicating support.
The cost estimates for the two proposed pocket parks are as follows: