Mansfield’s first dog park isn’t a done deal, after all.
In a work session July 23, the City Council heard proposals for a dog park and the restoration of the Man house on the same site at 604 W. Broad St.
The plan was that the Man house would become an educational museum and tourist site while the heavily wooded back end of the city-owned property would become a dog park.
Several council members weren’t sold on the dog park location, the cost or whether it’s really needed.
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“Is $800,000 what we see as the top two or three priorities?” Councilman Mike Leyman asked. “I’d rather spend $800,000 expanding the linear park than to put in a dog park. I just need to be convinced that there’s a significant number of people who want a dog park.”
Councilwoman Julie Short asked why Mansfield would build a whole separate park for dogs where there’s no playgrounds or other activities for children and families. She favored looking at other locations that have more activities available.
There’s also the issue of liability if a dog attacks a person or another dog.
Councilman Larry Broseh said he has never liked the idea of a dog park but he would support it if that’s what the residents want.
Councilman Brent Newsom said he supports the dog park.
“Most citizens believe it is a done deal because it’s been funded for four straight years,” Newsom said.
Matt Young, director of parks and recreation for the city, said more than 450 people responded to the survey asking about the dog park and the amenities they’d like to have in it.
He said a lot of thought went into picking the location of the dog park. Other sites won’t work because there aren’t enough trees, which means people will be less likely to use it when it’s hot outside.
The Man site has mature trees as it backs up to Walnut Creek.
“It is the best location if we choose to do a dog park,” Young said. “It’s a gorgeous site. You’re not going to find a better one in the city. The biggest thing in a big community park is that it’s flat land with no shade.”
He added that the Mansfield Park Facilities Development Corp. has already allocated money to the project.
The location at 604 W. Broad St. ties directly into phase four of the Walnut Creek Linear Park, he said.
Young worked for Arlington for 15 years so he has experience with dog parks — the Tails ‘N Trails Dog Park opened in 2007. He said dog parks aren’t just for dogs; they are social gathering places for people, too.
He added the signage at the dog park would warn visitors that they enter at their own risk and the city isn’t liable. The city’s police and animal control officers would work together on enforcement.
Mayor David Cook said he supports the Man site for a dog park because the mature trees and floodplain make it unsuitable for anything else. And the city can share the parking for the dog park with the educational opportunity at the Man house. If the city decides to restore the Man house, the parking lot and other costs will be incurred anyway, he said.
Bringing the past to life
In the years after the Civil War, Ralph S. Man moved his family west of downtown Mansfield, building a log cabin that still stands today with a Texas historical marker. Man and his brother-in-law, Julian Feild, are credited with building the first steam-powered grist mill, which fed Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The names were combined to Mansfeild and later changed to Mansfield.
On July 23, the council heard plans to restore the interior back to the way it looked in the 1860s. One of the old barns also dates to that period and could be restored, too.
“You have the opportunity to do something that not a lot of cities have,” said Fred Caubel, a principle with Tom Malone Architects, a Fort Worth firm hired by the city to look at options for restoring the site. “With the barn, you can actually see the detail of how they put things together back then. There’s a lot of history here that you can take advantage of. There’s so much history that’s been lost.”
He proposed different options and phases.
Phase one would restore the Man House, including taking the interior walls back to the original log cabin, at a cost of $154,256. Phase 2 could add air conditioning and other modern improvements for another $164,845.
Restoring the barn could cost another $123,106, including a metal walkway that takes visitors above the barn floor so they aren’t trampling on it.
Other amenities include restrooms, a visitor center and an outdoor amphitheater.
There’s even potential to relocate another historic log cabin to the Man house site. Many of the cost estimates came from Grapevine’s Nash Farm, which underwent a similar renovation. The Man house is older than the Nash house.
The Man house would go perfectly with the Mansfield Historical Museum and Heritage Center in downtown.
“The Historical Society has a great museum downtown but they’re running out of room,” Caubel said. “The Man house could be a counterpoint with a different feel. This is more history from feeling it, feeling the way it was when it was built.”
The council directed city staff to explore grant opportunities for the Man house restoration.