Minor improvements could come soon to Mutt Run dog park, additional off-leash areas to be considered

photo by: John Shelton/Contributed Photo

John and Ellen "Rusty" Shelton's Brittany spaniel, Gunnison, stands atop a hay bale at the city’s Mutt Run Off-Leash Dog Park in this photo from summer 2019.

Lawrence Parks and Recreation Department officials said some of the desired improvements at the city’s Mutt Run off-leash dog park could be accomplished relatively quickly and that long-term projects could include creating another more centrally located dog park.

The department held a public meeting Wednesday to discuss potential improvements to the Mutt Run, 1330 East 902 Road, and other interests of dog owners. At the end of the meeting, Parks and Rec Director Derek Rogers said he thought there were a lot of great opportunities to improve the Mutt Run, and some could be done right away.

“There’s a lot of small things that we can do, and I think that is probably what you are going to see in the short-term, until we can get a little farther,” Rogers said. “In the long term, I think we can look at other options for interior city parks.”

Rogers said the small improvements included fixing one of the main creek crossings of the park’s trails, which has eroded away and at times holds stagnant water. Other improvements could help prevent main trails from getting excessively muddy. Regarding the creation of another dog park, Rogers said land already owned by the city that has parking could be converted to an off-leash area relatively easily with the addition of fencing.

About 30 people attended the meeting, which was held to discuss a recent city survey to gather input about potential Mutt Run improvements. The three highest-ranked improvements, in order, were a fence to separate parking/road areas from off-leash areas, modern restrooms with flush toilets and a new water play area for dogs. Several attendees supported increasing the size of the parking lot, as parking sometimes overflows onto the street, and adding a fence between the lot and a nearby play area, but most did not press for major changes.

“What I feel like I’m hearing overall is everybody does love the dog park pretty much as is, and we’ve learned to deal with the ruggedness and the lack of amenities out there,” meeting attendee Amber Nickel said. “I think there is a lot of opportunity to potentially make other smaller, pocketed dog parks around town that fulfill the needs of other dogs and dog owners.”

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The discussion comes as the city is considering a proposal to extend 27th Street along the park, which would require it to be fenced. Though the survey was not about the road, another meeting attendee said the city might get different responses once a decision about the road is made.

Rogers told the Journal-World before the meeting there isn’t yet identified funding for major improvements to the dog park, but smaller improvements could come out of the department’s annual maintenance budget. He said bigger projects could be future Capital Improvement Plan projects, and the survey and meeting were ways to start that discussion. He told attendees that another meeting would likely be scheduled early next year to continue the discussion.


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