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Parks Department Asks for Community Input on Pershing Square Improvements

By Eric Richardson
Published: Monday, January 19, 2009, at 04:14PM
Pershing Square's Palm Court Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Pershing Square's Palm Court has been the topic of a contentious improvement debate in recent months.

Last June, the Downtown community was surprised to hear of $190,000 in renovations to Pershing Square's Palm Court, a neglected area on the park's northeast corner. The proposal, which included landscaping and exercise equipment, had already been approved by the Parks Commission before the neighborhood caught any wind of it.

This time the department is being a little more forthcoming, soliciting input from the community before moving forward on plans to add a dog park to one of the corners of the park.

Despite lacking any canine facilities, Pershing Square has become a destination for Downtown's dog-owning population. The small grassy area is consistently patchy from pet use.

At a meeting of the Pershing Square Park Advisory Board last week, Recreation and Parks General Manager John Mukri said that dog facilities are currently the most controversial issue in park circles nation-wide. He noted that dog owners are already making use of the park, and the choice is simply where to direct that use.

After Councilwoman Jan Perry's office stepped in, the Palm Court plans were shaved to remove the exercise equipment. In October, the Parks Commission approved the reduced concept, and Parks staff told of plans to add a dog area to the park's southern edge.

A dog park is also one of the options up for consideration in planning the future 35,000 square foot park space nearby on Spring street, which Recreation and Parks last week announced it had a deal to purchase.

Four plans are available for community input.

Plans one and two would proceed with the Palm Court work as planned, doing landscaping and irrigation work. Plan two would substitute a larger lawn for a decorative planting area. Plan one would cost $176,433, while plan two would cost $136,150. Both would take roughly six months to complete.

Plan three would include a 2,355 square foot dog park into the Palm Court work. The dog park would be constructed of K-9 turf, with doggie drinking fountains and a subsystem created to efficiently drain waste. This plan would cost $203,426 and would take 1.5 to 2 years to complete due to drainage work.

Plan four, which would exist alongside either plan one or plan two, would add a dog park to the 6th street edge of the park, currently a raised seating area. This park option would be 4,061 square feet, and would feature the same K-9 turf, amenities, and drainage subsystem. It would cost $125,757, and work would take 1.5 to 2 years.

The Park Advisory Board has created a Dog Park subcommittee, which plans to hold a public meeting in upcoming weeks to solicit feedback. It will also be collecting feedback posted online.

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