BEMIDJI - The dream of a dog park for the nearly 500 licensed dogs in Bemidji is one that has been stewing for nearly three years and with the lack of funding, the dogs wait patiently, drooling at the thought of an open field where they can run freely and mingle with other dogs.
"There is a lot of support, it's just trying to get the people to open up their wallets," Nymore Dog Park Committee Chair Ann Campbell said. "We understand it's hard times for everybody. Some people look at this as kind of a luxury and others might think they just don't need a dog park."
Bemidji Parks and Trails Commission Chair Marcia Larson said two acres of land at Nymore Park have been selected for the future home of a dog park, but right now there is no money to allocate to building the park because of other priorities, including the lake front, which costs more than the estimated $75,000 the dog park would need.
The Nymore Dog Park Committee, which meets monthly, has been pushing for the dog park, fundraising since the committee formed in 2010. Larson said the committee has been great and she supports their continued efforts to raise money for the park.
"I have gotten contacted intermittently in the last several years by people that have an interest in having a dog park," Larson said. "They are very popular in a lot of communities. I think if we built one people would definitely use it."
Larson and Campbell both said $75,000 would be needed to fund the construction of a dog park. Larson said the largest expense is the fencing and putting in a water line for a water fountain. Some landscaping would also be needed as well as the installation of some benches and a shelter for the dogs.
The Nymore Dog Park Committee released a model of the park at the Home Sport and Travel Show in March. The model was designed by Northwest Technical College students.
Campbell said park would feature a split fence, allowing for small and large dogs to be separated. The ideal plan would be to get the fence and the water put in within a year, adding features like an agility course or a water pond in different phases.
Campbell has visited dog parks in the surrounding areas to not only help get ideas for the design, but also see how communities have fundraised. She said the dog park she visited in Whitefish, Mont., focused on getting the basics up to show people what the park could be.
"They said they did not get the shelter up right away, they got the fencing up, the water in and immediately after the dollars started coming in for the shelter because they saw what it was doing for the community and how many people were using it," Campbell said.
Campbell said the committee has raised $2,500 so far, well shy of their goal, but fundraising efforts continue. The city's third annual 5K-9 run-walk will be Aug. 25 at the Rotary Pavilion. People can pre-register for the race at www.ci.bemidji.mn.us or in person at City Hall. The cost is $20 in advance or $25 on race day. All proceeds will go towards the Nymore Dog Park fund.
The Northwest Minnesota Foundation also has a fund set up for the people to donate. People can donate by going to http://www.nwmf.org/.
Campbell said that even without the fundraising dollars being there, the community has shown ongoing support for the dog park and she knows that it will benefit the community when it finally does get built.