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Dogs to get their day in League City

08:48 AM CST on Monday, November 3, 2008
By TJ Aulds / The Daily News

LEAGUE CITY — After almost two years of failed attempts by residents, the city council last week approved spending $194,000 to build a park where dogs can romp unleashed.

In a 4-3 vote, city council members OK’d the initial phase of the park on 8 acres down the street from the police station. The vote was a victory for Councilman Neil Baron, who advocated for the park even before his election to the council.

“We are taking what is essentially a useless piece of land and making it into something,” Baron said.

The decision came almost a year after the council rejected spending $70,000 to build a dog park near the Newport Subdivision. That plan was derailed because of complaints from homeowners that the park would be too close to their houses.

Baron, who owns an Australian shepherd and golden retriever, was part of the League City Dog Park Committee. The group even created a Web site to promote the park’s construction.

Even with issues such as debris pickup, charter review and flooding problems in the Lakeside subdivision on the agenda, discussion and debate about the park took almost an hour and proved to be the most robust of the night.

That was in addition to a parade of supporters and a few opponents who spoke during the public comment part of the city council meeting Tuesday.

City parks Director Chien Wei, with careful prompting from Baron, laid out the plans for the park.

The park would be the first in Galveston County dedicated to dogs. Plans call for a fenced area divided into sections for big dogs and small dogs.

In addition to the $194,000 to build the park, the city will spend about $3,000 a year for maintenance, Wei said.

Construction money will come from the city’s park fund. Money in that account comes from fees paid by developers granted permits to build new subdivisions in the city. About $1.9 million in that account is set aside to build parks.

The maintenance would include regular mowing and the installation of a plastic bag dispenser for owners to use to pick up after their dogs. Supporters insisted general upkeep of the park would come from dog owners.

The approved site is called Centerpoint Park, which has been a storm-water retention area along Walker Street. While construction will require building a parking area and road access, Wei said the site’s advantage was that it includes plenty of tree cover.

The park had plenty of detractors.

“It’s gone from a nice concept to something that (costs) three times as much,” Councilman Mike Barker said.

The park’s price tag was $120,000 more than proposed previously because the Newport site already had some infrastructure, Wei said.

Still, Barber said the park should be part of a “priority list just like road projects.”

The dog park was No. 22 on a priority list drafted from a 2005 survey of residents, Wei said.

That did not sit well with Councilman Tim Paulissen.

“We have other issues with other parks, such as athletic fields,” said Paulissen, noting that the request for ballparks ranked well above the dog park in the survey.

Most of the projects ranked higher on the list had either already been addressed or were being built, Wei said.

Baron said he hoped the park would serve as a catalyst for others in the area. He said he also thought that pet supplies corporations would want to partner with the city to expand and enhance the park.

A timeline for the start of construction of the park was not given.

This story is available through KHOU, Ch. 11's partnership with The Galveston County Daily News.

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