Daubenspeck Park is seen on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Daubenspeck Park is seen on Thursday, May 20, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai adds grant for dog park to FY22 budget

Efforts to create a dog park in Kenai have been underway for years and have mostly been driven by volunteer labor and financial donations.

Kenai dog owners could start using a city dog park as early as next spring following the award of a $25,000 grant toward the project by the Kenai City Council during their Wednesday night meeting.

Efforts to create a dog park in Kenai have been underway for years and have mostly been driven by volunteer labor and financial donations. The dog park would be located at Daubenspeck Family Park in Kenai, near Walmart.

The request for funds came from former Kenai mayor Pat Porter in a letter to the council sent earlier this week. Porter asked that the council use $25,000 from “Daubenspeck funding” to pay for fencing at the dog park, which she said would need to be installed this fall in order for the park to open next year. Other work on the park, Porter said, has been done with help from volunteers and in-kind services.

“Daubenspeck funding” refers to revenue the City of Kenai generates from land gifted to the city by a couple in the 1980s. Kenai Finance Director Terry Eubank said in a memo to the council that Harold and Rita Daubenspeck donated land — including the subsurface mineral rights — to the city in 1980, and that the Kenai City Council later passed legislation that said proceeds from oil and gas mineral rights, sales proceeds, royalties or rental income would be dedicated to “athletic programs” sponsored by the city.

Eubank said there is about $631,000 available from the Daubenspeck land.

Porter also said that the goal would ultimately be to reimburse the funds used for the fence from the Daubenspeck fund, but that they are also waiting to hear back about a grant request from Home Depot, which they expect to know more about in the fall.

“Your funding would guarantee [its] installation,” Porter wrote.

The council spent time Wednesday debating whether or not the Kenai Dog Park could be considered an “athletic program” as described by the legislation and, therefore, whether or not it was eligible to receive Daubenspeck funds.

Porter said in her letter that the dog park should be eligible for Daubenspeck funds because it would be a form of recreation for people who use it.

“When the Daubenspeck’s gifted this to the city, it was many years ago,” Porter wrote. “Many activities, that are available today, were not even on the horizon then. A dog park fits right into their intent.”

City council member Jim Glendening said that in dedicating the land, the 1980 resolution also noted that the spending of Daubenspeck funds would be at the “full and sole discretion of the City Council.” Glendening proposed allocating up to $25,000 in the form of a revolving fund for the park.

“I submit that a dog park fully comports and fits in with the definitions given,” Glendening said.

Vice Mayor Bob Molloy said that while he supports the creation of a dog park in the city, he would not support using money from the Daubenspeck fund because of how narrowly fund use is defined in the legislation. Instead, Molloy said they could support the dog park with money from the city’s general fund.

“I wouldn’t like to see the City of Kenai violate the intent of the donors, which I think was more narrow then,” Molloy said.

Ultimately, the council authorized $25,000 as a grant to be used specifically for the dog park and that they restrict the grant window to the end of FY22, or until June 30, 2022. That budget amendment was approved by the council by a vote of 6-1 with Molloy voting in opposition.

The council’s Wednesday night meeting can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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