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.
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.