September 29, 2009 -
Construction on the City of Knoxville's new downtown dog park is slated to begin by October 15, and should be completed by the end of the year.
The 29,400-square-foot park will be developed on a section of green space located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Summit Hill and Central Avenue and will include separate sections for large dogs and small ones. There will be entrances at the corner of Central and Summit and at the intersection of Commerce Street and Central.
"We're looking forward to getting started," said Joe Walsh, the city's Parks and Recreation Director. "It's been a long process to get to this point and this is something a lot of people, particularly downtown residents, have wanted to see. So we're very excited and believe it will be a great addition to downtown."
Walsh said the park will include a six-foot-high black vinyl chain length fence running along the back section of the park and a four-foot-high decorative fence where it fronts Central Street. There will be two water fountains for dogs, trees for shade and a crushed stone, or crush and run, border along the edge of the park.
The city will also build a new section of sidewalk along the east side of Central in front of the park.
The Public Building Authority is providing project management services for the dog park, which has a project budget of $162,000. The Benefield Richters Company did the design and Rich Construction Inc. is the contractor.
The city began exploring the possibility of creating a downtown dog park in the fall of 2007 in response to the growing number of residents downtown, many of whom owned dogs and wanted a place nearby where they could take them off the leash.
PetSafe, part of the Knoxville-based Radio Systems Corporation, subsequently offered to provide $100,000 toward its construction.
"PetSafe has been great to work with," Walsh said. "They just didn't give us the money they have also been actively involved in the planning process."
Walsh said the process of acquiring the easement for the property from the Tennessee Department of Transportation and getting the funding lined up for the park took some time.
In addition to PetSafe's gift the city will spend $62,000 on the construction costs, which includes a $12,000 Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Grant awarded to the city for use in the park's development.
The initial construction estimate, however, was $177,000, "so we were looking for ways to trim the costs," Walsh said.
He said the city plans to add additional features to the park as funds become available in the future.
"But our goal right now is just to get the facility open so people can use it," Walsh said.