By the end of this summer, Soldotna residents will be able to say that Aspen Park has really gone to the dogs.
That’s because the Soldotna Parks and Recreation Department is forging ahead on work to turn a portion of the park on North Aspen Drive behind the Kenai Peninsula Tourism Marketing Council into a park specifically for the city’s furry residents.
Three Friends Dog Park has been years in the making. Long-time Soldotna resident Connie Hocker has been a major force behind the project and coordinated with Soldotna staff as they worked to direct $55,000 bequeathed to the city toward the dog park. Soldotna resident Martha Brewer left the money to the city when she died with the stipulation that it had to benefit canines.
Paired with about $40,000 previously allocated for a gazebo to be built in Soldotna’s Parker Park, which never came to fruition, and some matching funds from a grant through Alaska Public Entity Insurance for updating playground safety, the $55,000 from Brewer’s estate helped the Three Friends Dog Park project become possible.
Soldotna Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Carmichael said city staff have already completed the prep work for the needed parking lot paving. The parking lot and updated fencing will make up most of the work, he said.
“We’re moving forward and hoping for an end of June, early July completion,” he said.
The fencing will be placed in a manner that won’t restrict access to the park from the surrounding apartments, Carmichael said. City staff will also re-work some of the nearby trails that lead in to Aspen Park to make sure they are wheelchair accessible, he said, and the park will also include a water feature that acts as a drinking fountain for the dogs.
Carmichael said aspects like signage and park guidelines will be hammered out in June, drawing from examples of what works in existing dog parks.
“We’re not reinventing the wheel,” Carmichael said. “We’ll just adapt from … what seem to be good ideas from other areas.”
Carmichael said the park should serve as a good option for residents or visitors traveling through Soldotna with their pups, but don’t necessarily want to take their dogs out into the Alaska wilderness for exercise.
Hocker told the Clarion in a previous interview that the dog park will also ideally include a memorial wall comprised of stones made by community members honoring past dogs they’ve owned.
“It’s always nice when the community steps up,” Carmichael said of the efforts to make Three Friends Dog Park a reality.
Reach Megan Pacer at firstname.lastname@example.org.