Feature Article - March 2017
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Parks Gone to the Dogs

Planning & Programming a Park for Pooches

By Dave Ramont

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As urban areas are getting denser and green space is becoming scarcer, rooftop dog parks are becoming more popular. More millennials are becoming dog owners, and apartment managers have noticed—using rooftop parks to lure tenants. But Sarver points out that these parks present challenges that need to be professionally planned, including a system for drainage and flushing of the waste. "It's also more difficult to put up a fence system since it has to anchor into the concrete without affecting the integrity of the rooftop waterproofing barriers," he said. Shade and UV light planning are also important considerations.

Airports are another great location for dog parks—for those travelling with pups, according to Palacios and Marler. "We're also seeing more hotels and RV parks catering to their K9 guests," they added.

VandenBerghe mentioned the repurposing of un-utilized spaces, such as the I-5 Colonnade Park in Seattle, located under the freeway and offering a dog park and bike trails. "It's less than ideal for other recreational offerings, but with its steep slopes and protection from the elements, it makes a great dog park," she said.

DogParks USA offers a comprehensive online dog park development training series called Fido University. One thing they strongly recommend is considering ADA requirements when designing your park. "It's important that parks plan for ADA or accessible considerations on the sidewalks, fountains, bathrooms, entrances, parking, surfaces, etc.," Sarver said.

That certainly includes dog parks in military communities, which is a growing trend. VandenBerghe said she really enjoys working on the military projects. "My husband served and dogs are so important to service members and their families as they provide a sense of stability," she explained.

Dog parks come with relatively low construction and maintenance costs, and they're truly multigenerational. Their numbers and popularity will continue to grow, and man's best friend thinks that's the cat's meow.