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February 28, 2009

Dogs at Sunnyside Park

Sunnyside is a wonderful park in south Kansas City. The addition of an area for pets and their owners, designed by a professional architect to include enclosure, landscaping and environmentally friendly features, can hardly be considered “a loss to south Kansas City,” as suggested by Cathleen Lillis (2/23, Letters). Further, current studies have shown Sunnyside to be under-used, not highly used as stated in the letter.

Rather than resulting in mud and left-behind toys, a specific dog area would secure dogs and their owners away from other park users. Small children have their own playground and enclosed spray park at Sunnyside. The tennis courts, basketball goals and other amenities would be separated from the dog area.

Many cities are fine examples of how defined places for dogs can successfully fit into urban parks where children, adults and pets all peacefully coexist and share public recreation space. A 2008 Parks Department survey showed that dog parks are the most frequent request of Kansas City taxpayers. I would hope that the parks board would consider the voices of hundreds from the Waldo-Brookside neighborhood who have petitioned and asked for a dog park at Sunnyside.

Barbara Abend
Kansas City

The dog park task force appointed by Mayor Funkhouser will soon be making its recommendations for citywide dog park locations. We hope the park board will listen to the approximately 667 neighbors near Sunnyside Park who support the excellent proposal put forth by W.O.O.F. (Well-Organized Off-leash Friends).

Not only does the proposal provide an area for small dogs separated from another area for larger dogs, but it includes an additional fenced area that can be alternated if the grass begins to get bare, thus allowing green space at all times. The plan calls for hardy hybrid grass that will stand up to wear and other “green” alternatives such as permeable pavers, tumbled rock pathways and rain basins, to name just a few.

Much time-consuming work has been done by the advocacy group W.O.O.F. Many hours of research, talking with officials in others cities with dog parks, volunteer efforts for fundraising and so forth have been undertaken. Deb Hipp, W.O.O.F. organizer, has done an outstanding job on behalf of our group. The neighborhood would certainly benefit from this beautiful new amenity for Sunnyside Park. And the best part — we are willing to pay for and maintain it ourselves.

Carmen Root
W.O.O.F. volunteer
Kansas City



I believe in the concept of dogparks (well thought out and objectively planned out with the whole community in mind) and am a multi dog owner. I have worked for the Parks Department (and they are the Pros at what they do), I am a nearby resident of both Sunnyside and South Oak parks. All that to say, I with all sincerity, say that each and every Board member as well as those on the Parks Department's Planning and Executive staffs deserve a hearty congratulations for making what might be condsidered by some a controversial decision. It was the right choice!


Sunnyside Park was the wrong choice for so very many reasons, it is too small, it is too close to a heavily travelled thoroughfare, it already contains too many activity areas to include a walking trail, basketball courts, several ballfields, a children's playground and sprayground, several tennis courts as well as several picnic areas. Those neighbors surrounding the park and a majority of residents in the immediate area were not receptive to the idea, nor were businesses around the park onboard with it either. Let us not forget the bad behavior exhibited by those in favor of the idea namely many WOOF members and their leader Deb Hipp, who advocated harassment of the Boardmembers and also used a deceptive campaign for the idea and often used downright untrue and/or derogatory language about those opposed to her and her group's ideas about the park.


I applaud the Parks Board for making a wise choice in the selection of several of the City's parks to add dogpark areas to, but more specifically I say they deserve a well earned pat on the back for not choosing the controversial Sunnyside Park. The Board by not selecting one of the Dog Park Task Force's(which it should be said was a very non-objective and heavily biased group)top choice for a dogpark, Sunnyside Park, showed the City and it's citizens that it could not and would not be bullied into a poor decision. You have made the right decision!!!

Smarter Than You

"I'll take all of the above for $1,000, Alex."


"If true it shows the screwed up priorities of Kansas City taxpayers."

Or a very unscientific survey.


"A 2008 Parks Department survey showed that dog parks are the most frequent request of Kansas City taxpayers."-Barbara Abend

If true it shows the screwed up priorities of Kansas City taxpayers.

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