Some residents are lobbying city leaders for a dog park on the island’s West End, a feature they say could enhance their quality of life.
The city has dog play areas at Menard and Lindale parks, but there are no public fenced areas for dogs to run and play on the West End, resident Bob Newding said.
“There’s a number of studies about the benefits of dog parks in communities,” Newding said. “It’s something we need.”
It’s a topic that’s long been a point of conversation for residents, said District 6 Councilwoman Jackie Cole, who represents the West End.
Along with lacking a dog park, there is generally less neighborhood park space on the West End than on the East End, she said.
“It’s sort of on people’s minds and it’s on people’s wish list,” Cole said. “It’s a matter of trying to find the place that would be the most advantageous.”
Some proponents of dog parks have suggested using airport property at least temporarily, but this could pose a problem if the city wanted to sell the airport land in the future, Cole said.
“The city cannot sell or dispose of park property without a vote of the people,” Cole said.
Some residents have also discussed turning part or all of Jones Park, Jones Drive and 71st Street, into a dog park. The city in 2017 proposed selling this property, which has been plagued with drainage problems, but voters declined the suggestion in a narrow vote.
“Why don’t we make the whole thing a dog park and have something we can brag about?” Newding said.
It’s a possibility the city is open to, city spokeswoman Marissa Barnett said.
“Certainly, nothing is final yet,” Barnett said.
Although city rules prohibit it, many West End residents let their dogs run off-leash on the beach, which has become a substitute for West End dog parks, said Jerry Mohn, president of the West Galveston Island Property Owners Association.
He’s not sure West Enders would use a dog park if they’re already accustomed to taking pets on the beach, and wonders whether some residents would complain about the noise of a dog park, he said.
But resident Bruce Reinhart argues a dog park could add significant benefit to the area, he said.
“I think it would be a good idea,” Reinhart said.
Determining where to put the park, on the other hand, would take some time, he said.
Without a specific design or location selected, it’s difficult for the city to estimate a cost associated with a dog park, Barnett said.
That cost might be the biggest hurdle to overcome, Cole said.
City officials have this year expressed concern about a bill moving through the state legislature to cap the city’s property tax revenue increases. City officials worry this bill could hamper growth.
“We always watch the budget, but with the tax cap that the state is putting on us it just makes it really impossible to think about anything other than public safety, streets and basic services,” Cole said. “There’s not going to be any gravy.”
The city hasn’t released a finalized plan for Jones Park, but has floated the idea of including a fenced dog area. A completed plan would need to go through a public comment period and be approved by the Galveston City Council, city officials said.