A Walk in the (Dog) Park

Chippewa Valley Canines Begging for More Parks

Gillian Ekern, photos by Marisa Wojcik

The growing success of Eau Claire’s dog park has spurned such an interest that as many as four others may develop in the Chippewa Valley in the next few years.

According to Phil Fieber, director of Parks and Recreation, the city sold 623 season passes to Eau Claire Dog Park just last year, doubling the numbers from 2004. “We think the dog park helps pay for itself,” he said. “It’s been a really good venture for the city.”

Eighty percent of the user fees are set aside for future development and maintenance of the current park. Parks and Recreation Superintendent Phil Johnson said the park makes about $10,000 a year through fees and a large amount of what is in the fund is available for improvements or the development of a new park.

Dog owners in Eau Claire are pushing for a new park on the north side of town on Jeffers Road, while another could sprout up on Forest Street (across from Phoenix Park) as part of a larger redevelopment project.

The current park is about 11 acres and has faced only a few problems with inattentive owners, aggressive dogs, and the issue of placing larger dogs in the same setting as smaller dogs.

Pat Williams, a member of the Friends of the Dog Park, said a new dog park would take some of the pressure off of the existing one and offer more accessibility to different neighborhoods.

“As well used as the original dog park is, it would be good for the park and for those people on the north side, and their dogs,” she said.

Williams said the plans for the new park would include 10 acres, plus two more for a small dog and puppy park, solving one of the original park’s problems. It is still unsure whether water access will be available. Williams said this could depend on financial feasibility as well as what community members prefer.