Letter to Commissioner Re: Phased Approach

Here is roughly what I sent the commissioners:
Thank you again for considering the FHDP’s request to build the dog park in phases.  As we presented, we really feel that building Phase I as soon as we have the funds to build it would help us spread awareness about dog parks and would help with our fundraising efforts.  I think many in the community who otherwise support the project, are reluctant to give funds to such a large project.  We believe that if the project is completed in increments, it would allow people to see where their donation is going.  In researching dog parks around Kansas, I spoke to the citizen activist who started the Great Bend Dog Park.  She indicated that she requested the city donate an enclosed baseball field to the cause early on and she would host “dog park days” where people would bring their dogs to the site to see what a dog park was like.  She indicated that this was one of the driving forces behind her fundraising efforts; people came to the park, participated, and left wanting a more permanent place for their dogs to play.  We believe that Phase 1 would have exactly the same effect.

I would like to address a couple of the concerns that were voiced at the City Commission Work Session on April 18, 2013:

Building Start Date:  First and foremost, I want to emphasize again that we would not request to start building Phase 1 until we raised the $32,800 needed for that phase—not a minute before.

Park Size and Finish:  One of the concerns expressed was that Phase 1 would look unfinished.  The park will look like a finished park.  The only indication that we will pursue other phases will be the staging area to the Phase 2 large park.  I talked with Park’s Director Jeff Boyle about delaying that until we started Phase 2 and he felt that it was best to do the staging area all at the same time.  Otherwise, the park will appear to be completed.

Ultimately, we are asking for a two-section, 7 acre park; we feel this will best serve the needs of people in Hays long-term.  However, I did some research regarding the relative sizes of dog parks in Kansas.  Of the 16 dog parks in Kansas, 8 of them are 1 1/2 acres (the size of Phase 1) or smaller; some, like those in Garden City, Hesston, El Dorado, Salina, and Topeka are about the size of a baseball diamond.  So Phase 1 will be large enough to operate for the period of time that we will need to raise the money for Phases 2 and 3.  I have attached the data for your examination.

Large Dog, Small Dog, All Dog:  It is a dog park “best practice” to have separate areas for small and large dogs because some small dogs are intimidated by larger dogs.  We planned to do this in the Hays Dog Park as a courtesy to small dog owners.  However, there is no hard and fast rule that these dogs HAVE to be separated.  As I said, we planned it this way simply to accommodate owners of timid dogs.  Most of the dog parks in Kansas have separate areas; however, 2 of the dog parks opted to make their parks “all dog” parks and allow the sizes to mingle.  I talked to the organizer of the Great Bend park and she indicated that the strategy has worked fine.  I believe that making Phase 1 and “all dog” park for a while would be a viable option in the short term.

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