Mansfield could finally get a dog park next year, joining neighboring cities that have already built one or two areas for dogs to roam free.
Dog parks have evolved in recent years from just simple fenced in areas with a few shade structures and a water fountain to amenity-filled destinations with agility courses, water features, lighting, areas to rent for dog parties and designated areas for older dogs.
While the city is late to the game, Matt Young, director of parks and recreation, said the city will take the best from all the examples in North Texas as it builds Mansfield’s first dog park.
“We know this is a priority for the community and we want to make this happen,” Young said.
The city announced a proposal to build a 10-acre dog park at 604 W. Broad St. just west of downtown. Construction on the $800,000 dog park could start this fall and be completed by spring 2019, Young said.
The existing home on the site once belonged to city founder Ralph Man, making it a key part of the city’s history. Mansfield purchased the site in 2013 for future park use as the city plans to extend the Walnut Creek Linear Trail west.
While the dog park and Man house and associated barns would share a parking lot, the projects would be considered separate. The house would be in the front and the dog park would take up the heavily wooded land in the back.
Mansfield wants to preserve the Man house and potentially set it up as a museum with his household goods and furniture, said Lisa Sudbury, interim director of planning. The log barn and landscaping around the house will also be preserved.
The city is working with Tom Malone, an architect in Fort Worth, to study the house's potential.
"The Mansfield City Council directed staff to have a presentable project alongside the dog park that citizens could be proud of," she said.
The Mansfield Historical Society and the Historic Landmark Commission will also be involved.
The potential trail connection along the creek was one of many reasons Mansfield chose the site on West Broad Street for the dog park, making it easy for dog owners to walk to the park from anywhere along the city-spanning trail. Young explained that the city wanted to find a site off a main road that doesn’t back up to lots of homes and had existing mature trees. The site checks all those boxes, Young said.
Natural shade makes the dog park more comfortable and inviting during the summer months and will be cheaper than putting in canopies or other shade structures, he said. The site is also big enough to have up to four different fenced-in areas, one for small dogs, one for large dogs, a party area that could be available to rent and a fourth area that could be for older dogs or an agility course.
The city is seeking input from the public on what types of amenities the dog park should have. To submit feedback, email the city at firstname.lastname@example.org or take the online survey at bit.ly/2pG9l3B. Questions include whether the city should charge for an annual permit for access to the park to make sure the dogs are vaccinated and the users are Mansfield residents. It also asks how often someone would visit the dog park and what features they would like to have.
The city hosted a public meeting to kick off the project on Wednesday, March 21. The biggest concern by the people in attendance was how to handle aggressive dogs and owners who don’t pick up after their dogs. They suggested having a group of volunteers who can monitor the dog park in case an owner doesn’t take care of an aggressive dog or a dog doesn’t have proper vaccinations.
Young previously worked in Arlington, so he’s familiar with managing that city’s first dog park, the Tails ‘N Trails Dog Park on Green Oaks Boulevard.
“It’s actually the most challenging and most difficult park to manage,” Young said.