MANKATO — The city of Mankato is expanding one of two fenced-in dog park areas at the Kiwanis Recreation Area and will soon be repairing damaged fencing on the other.
Workers are installing fencing to create two separate areas at what is unofficially known among dog park visitors as the "upper park." The expansion extends the fenced-in area to the walking path that surrounds the area.
The original upper park was roughly 46,000 square feet. The expansion adds another 43,000. The addition will have its own drinking fountain and entrance. Total cost of the expansion, including fence and fountain, is about $17,000.
Mankato Parks Supt. Mark McQuillan said the city will attempt to re-establish turf in the original upper park. It's mostly dirt right now, which spells doom for dog owners when it rains, especially when they have dogs that relish the chance to roll in the mud. When they work on that section, it will be closed for a few months until the turf is ready for pooches again.
The lower dog park, the one that traditionally has been preferred by owners of larger dogs, has seen decreased use recently. During the past several years floods have damaged that pen's fencing, rendering it useless for dogs that need to be penned in. McQuillan said they hope to have the fence in the lower park repaired, and crews were there this week installing a temporary barrier.
A large tree fell over a portion of the fence, and McQuillan said he hopes they can eventually have that tree removed. Until then, the temporary measure will be employed.
In other Kiwanis Recreation Area news, an organization called Mankato Area Mountain Bikers has been removing brush and buckthorn — mostly buckthorn — to create a mountain biking trail on the property. It would sit on land between the lower dog park and the river, McQuillan said, and the mountain bikers have been providing nearly all the manpower to make that happen.
The trail, which McQuillan said will be roughly a mile, also will be maintained by the mountain bikers.
In the future, the city may develop land farther downstream into a non-fenced, dog-friendly area with walking trails.