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Public Meeting Tonight On Off-Leash Dog Park Expansion

Photo by C. Young

The city’s eleven existing off-leash dog parksare experiencing “heavy use”, according to Austin Parks and Recreation, a headache that leads to overcrowded parking lots and soil erosion. The city believes it can improve the situation by building at least two more off-leash dog parks in more suburban areas of the city.

Specifically, the possible locations are Yett Creek Park in north Austin near Parmer Ln. and Mabel Davis District Park in southeast Austin near I-35 and Ben White Blvd.

The first of three public input sessions on Mabel Davis Park proposal is scheduled from 6 pm to 7:30 pm tonight in the Linder Elementary School cafeteria.

One meeting was already held with people who live around Yett Creek Park. Community Impact Newspaper reported on some of those residents' resistance.

[Angus Valley neighborhood Gil] Kloepfer said most residents are not angry over the proposal but want to be assured that their concerns about traffic, parking, buffers between the park and abutting homes and wildlife being driven out by an increase in people and pets in the park be taken seriously.

Parks and Recreation division manager Ricardo Solis says he expects parking and land use to be big issues at tonight’s meeting.

“Mabel Davis is a big park. It has other amenities in there. There’s a pool. There’s a skate park. There’s an existing trail,” Solis told KUT News. “Our proposal will show what part of the park we’re thinking about. This would be an off-leash area that would be fenced in.”

Off-leash dog parks often require frequent maintenance and upkeep, as is the case with the Norwood Estate Dog Park of Riverside Drive. City of Austin landscape architect Marty Stump told KUT News in Aprilthat the off-leash park will be phased out from Norwood Park.

A neighborhood controversy erupted around the Bull Creek off-leash dog park in 2009 after water monitoring found high levels of E. Coli bacteriain the creek. The park is now on-leash only.

If you are particularly interested in off-lease dog park issues, you might also consider getting involved with the Off Leash Areas Advisory Committee. The group serves as a liaison between the city and the public on off-leash issues, and it meets on the second Wednesday of each month.

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.