Parks Department Opens One-Acre Dog Park on Downtown’s East Side

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The new dog park at Margaret Kemp Park covers one acre and is open from 5 a.m. to midnight.

By Kevin Collison

The KC Parks and Recreation Department has opened another dog park in the downtown area, this one a one-acre tract where canines can run free at Margaret Kemp Park at 10th and Harrison adjacent to 71 Highway.

Parks Director Chris Cotten said the opportunity to open a dog park arose after a major cleanup effort at the park which included removing homeless encampments that had sprung up at the location.

“We’d moved the houseless out of the area and wanted to get some productive activity there,” he said. “It’s a huge grassy area and we thought ‘why not use it for something?’

“We ran it by the city manager and the parks department, and public works provided the funding.”

The dog park will have a semi-official debut Thursday from 4:30-5:30 p.m. and downtown dog owners are invited to stop by for a “Play Date.”

The other dog parks run by the city are at West Terrace Park on the west side of downtown and Penn Valley Park on the south end. The Downtown Council also operates a dog park at Seventh and Walnut.

Resident surveys conducted by the Downtown Council have found having more places for downtowners to take their pets is one of their top priorities.

Cotten said it was that resident survey that prompted his department to look for solutions.

“I read the survey that was done and knew we had the dog park at West Terrace,” he said. “The only other park property not used was Margaret Kemp Park.”

The Kemp dog park hours are 5 a.m. to midnight. The area is well-lit and has security cameras to help make dog owners more comfortable.

Finding ways to make it easier for dog owners living downtown has been a consistent request in resident surveys done by the Downtown Council.

There is an enclosed area for small, elderly or handicapped dogs as well as an area for large dogs. A doggie drinking fountain is located on the north side of Kemp Park by the playground.

Here are the dog park rules:

–Handlers enter off-leash area at their own risk.
–Handlers must clean up after their dogs and dispose of all trash.
–Dogs may never be left unattended and must be under voice control at all times. There is a maximum of four (4) dogs per adult handler.
–Owners are responsible legally and financially for the actions of their dogs. Aggressive dogs should not be brought into the area, and any dog must be removed immediately if aggressive behavior is noted.
–Dogs must be healthy and free of parasites, properly licensed, vaccinated, and not in heat. No puppies under four months old are allowed.
–Children 8 years and under are not allowed in the off-leash dog area; children ages 9-15 must be accompanied by an adult. An adult handler is considered anyone over 16 years of age.
–Dogs must be leashed when outside of the fenced area. Handler should have the leash in hand when inside of the area.
–No human food is permitted in the fenced/off-leash area. Handlers using dog treats must assume the risk of safe handling.
–Prong, choke and spike collars must be removed for safety reasons.
-Handlers are subject to all applicable city ordinances.

Cotten said Parks Department will continue to consider opening additional dog parks in the downtown area if appropriate space can be identified.

“We’re open to do more if we can find the right place,” he said.

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