More Room to Romp at new dog park

Dogs and their humans gathered Monday for the grand opening of Moorhead’s Southside Dog Park. (Top right) Mayor Johnathan Judd and Acting City Manager Dan Mahli cut the ribbon, along with city council members. (Lower left) Parks Director Holly Heitkamp and Mayor Judd. Photos/Nancy Hanson.

Nancy Edmonds Hanson

A pack of Moorhead dogs and their humans gathered Monday to celebrate the opening of the city’s second park expressly designed for their outdoor fun.

Mayor Johnathan Judd, acting city manager Dan Mahli and park board chair James Hand cut the ribbon to officially open the River Oaks Dog Park. The long-awaited area offers canines and their owners a large fenced area where they can romp, along with the first of what’s anticipated to be a full range of agility equipment and other amenities.

The park is located at the west end of River Oaks Point, a promontory extending into the Red River. Much of that area became parkland when homes were cleared after the 1997 and 2009 floods. Originally planned closer to Rivershore Drive, where city water and sewer lines would have permitted the addition of restrooms and other amenities, the dog area was moved back after neighbors voiced concerns about noise and traffic. The location also required adjustment because the first proposal included land acquired by FEMA; the federal agency does not allow any kind of structures on buy-out acreage.

The park consists of two fenced areas: a one-third-acre site for smaller dogs, and an adjacent one-acre plot. On Monday, the latter came alive with retrievers, labs, spaniels and other happy beasts running flat-out from one end to the other, grinning with tails held high.

According to parks director Holly Heitkamp, the city is hoping for more donations to speed park development, which has been begun with a limited amount of public funds. “We’re looking for champions to help add the amenities,” she told the assembled crowd. The full plan – estimated to cost $200,000 in total – includes adding bridge and hill climbs, climbing boulders, tunnel houses and even fire hydrants, along with log benches, signs and more trees. 

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