Scott Warren

Scott Warren

The Maquoketa Hometown Pride Dog Park Committee has a home for its pet project, but now needs the money to make the project happen.

Committee members must raise about $120,000 to build and equip a dog park, committee member Scott Warren said.

The committee will raise these startup funds, and the city will pay for ongoing operating costs and future capital expenses at the park, which will be located at Horseshoe Pond Park.

When funding is secured, construction will begin. 

“Our target is spring 2020,” Warren said. He noted that while contractors will complete specialized work, there will be plenty of tasks requiring volunteer assistance.

The three largest expenses will be about $40,000 to buy and install 6-foot fencing, $30,000 to pour 6-foot handicapped-accessible sidewalks, and $30,000 for dog play features, benches, waste bag dispensers and garbage cans. Other expenses include handrails, signs, and concrete pads for benches.

“We also need to fix up some of the existing structures like the dilapidated stairways to and from the park site,” Warren said. 

Committee members studied several sites around Maquoketa and settled on the plateau area where people camped with tents at Horseshoe Pond Park. Last fall the council voted to close that area to tent campers because of multiple discipline issues and lack of payment.

The new dog park will stretch from the Citadel building, up the hill and across the former camping area, then back down the hill to the pavilion on the banks of Horseshoe Pond. 

Entrances would be handicapped-accessible.

Surrounded by trees, the area would have a natural sound buffer to reduce any barking noise, and there are no nearby residences, committee members said.

The dog park would be divided into two fenced-in areas, one for large dogs and one for small dogs.

Community benefits

Communities benefit from dog parks in many ways, according to Warren.

“The goal of the dog park is that it’s going to build the community,” Warren said. “One in two people are dog owners and many own more than one dog.

“With city leash laws, dogs can’t run around freely. A dog park gives them somewhere to run, and while they’re running, it gives you [the dog owner] the chance to socialize with other people who have a common interest and your dog the chance to socialize with others, too. You can never have too many places where people can meet and greet and intersect.

“We have two shelters there, so people could have dog parties. And with the campsites and people traveling with their dogs, [Horseshoe] is a very convenient location.”

The Maquoketa City Council last January voted 6-1 to designate a portion of Horseshoe Pond Park as a dog park.

Councilman Jacob Baker opposed the designation, saying the park would be “another thing for the city to maintain.” 

Baker said revitalization of the city’s parks ranked higher than the need for a dog park, according to a survey by the Maquoketa Comprehensive Plan Steering Committee. He also said he thought the city would have trouble enforcing dog training requirements and was concerned about liability issues at the park.

Tentative park rules would relieve the city of liability for incidents that might happen there, according to committee members.

Owners would be required to remove dogs with signs of aggression, and they must remove their dog’s waste.

In addition to Warren, committee members are Jamie Popper, Amy Moore, Jess Okon, Khristian Becker, Stephanie Sagers and Paulette Horner. The dog park committee is part of Maquoketa’s Hometown Pride Committee, a statewide Keep Iowa Beautiful program. Hometown Pride’s purpose is to build a stronger community, restore pride through local image, and enhance economic and cultural vitality.

Warren is asking people to consider supporting the dog park even if they don’t have a dog. 

The public fundraising campaign started last week. To donate, contact Warren at the Maquoketa Area Family YMCA at 563-652-6566; Stephanie Sagers at the Jackson County Economic Alliance, 563-652-4549; or Khristian Becker at 563-652-3483.