Fencing marks the boundaries of a planned dog park in Kenai near Daubenspeck Park on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Fencing marks the boundaries of a planned dog park in Kenai near Daubenspeck Park on Monday, Dec. 27, 2021, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai describes ‘path to completion’ for dog park

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander described needed work in a council memo

The City of Kenai has laid out an itemized list of things that need to happen in order to get a dog park opened in the city.

Eight tasks are described by Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander in a March 8 “project path to completion” memo prepared for council members. Though the park has been primarily led by community members since 2018, council members approved legislation last December that directed city administrators to create a capital project account for the project and to add it to the list of other capital projects already being worked on by the city.

Among the tasks are contracting a survey to assess the cleared area and location of fence posts and the determination of to what extent community members want to expand the park’s footprint. Additionally, a project completion schedule and budget are needed. If, through the process, it is discovered more money is needed for the park, it would fall on the city council to approve additional funds.

A community dog park in Kenai has been years in the making. Kenai City Council members approved in 2018 the use of part of Daubenspeck Family Park, near Walmart, for the park. The project has been spearheaded by community members, who first pitched the park as one that the City of Kenai would not have to pay for.

“Although the City did not have project controls in place at the beginning of the project, Administration understands the importance of this project to the community and plans to take on the project management role while working collaboratively with the Dog Park Committee towards completion of the Park,” Ostrander wrote.

To-date, the city has put $88,000 into the park and it’s possible more money will be needed. Council members approved $25,000 in the city’s fiscal year 2022 budget for fencing at the park. Park organizers told council members last October that the $25,000 had been fully expended on fencing, but the 4-foot-tall fence would not be tall enough to accommodate large dogs and, rather, a 6-foot-tall fence would be needed.

An additional $63,000 sum was approved in January by council members after heated debate. Those who supported the additional $63,000 donation for the project said it was needed to help address some of the more sophisticated work needed for the park, while those opposed questioned the fiscal responsibility of the process.

The issue continued to prove contentious during the council’s March 16 meeting, where council member Teea Winger questioned whether the committee would still have a role in getting the park completed.

“It feels like we’re taking this project away from them instead of partnering with them,” Winger said, proposing that the city hold a work session with dog park committee members to further flesh out what needs to be done.

Ostrander pushed back and said council members were clear in December that they wanted the city to take on the park as a capital project.

“You directed us to manage (the project), we’re going to manage it,” Ostrander said. “We’re going to do the very best job we can to get this dog park constructed this year and to work with the Dog Park Committee the entire time. … If you want this to be a capital project that we’re going to manage, this is the way we do capital projects.”

The Kenai City Council’s full meeting can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel.

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

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