Page A Work-in-Progress, Check Back Often
Southwest City Dog Park is fortunate to have had strong leadership throughout our first ten years and anticipate similar management going forward. With vision, fiscal responsibility, and a determination to make things happen – SWCDP has benefitted from major, ongoing capital improvements and other significant changes and upgrades. Our “Special Projects” photo essay demonstrates the scope of work and enthusiasm of our crews – primarily our volunteer crews.
Well, this shot says it all…
Our original Water Station 1 was a constant muddy mess – no water drainage system – a big problem seeking a big solution. Aaah, the first BIG DIG occurred during SWCDP’s Spring Break in 2012.
A volunteer crew of 6-8 dog park members came together to make a plan and do the work. We had to dig deep to expose the short pipe attached to the faucet – the original pipe only diverted the waste water a couple feet from the faucet. We also dug an 18 inch deep trench across the dog park and added pvc piping to the faucet.
Then, we created a spill off / holding well for the waste water. Finally, we expanded the size of the gravel around Water Station 1 including more peripheral stones. And, because this area at the mid-point of the dog park has heavy foot traffic – we banned pools and hoses at this Water Station. The re-routing waste water and eliminating excessive water usage solved the problem in Water Stations 1 & 2 area.
Our next challenge came soon after the installation of our new stationary water bowls. While our members enjoyed having more water sources and having the bibb hose to easily fill the doggie pools – this amenity created a massive amount of waste water. First, we slightly expanded the area with more gravel – but that did little to improve the situation. We had just had too much pool and hose activity to manage the waste water sufficiently. So……in great volunteer fashion – BIG DIG II (Phase 1) was initiated in late summer of 2012.
This was quite a project, involving over a dozen volunteers and lots & lots of gravel – we tripled the size of the area, creating an official “Pool Pad” designation. The concept required volunteers to dig a very deep pad area, install multiple perforated pipes and gravel to create a holding well for waste water. And, while we were at it – we added a few additional gravel/pipe areas further into the play area and also along the fence line to help in areas where rain water also collected and pooled.
Pool Pad Troubles – Even with the deep well and multiple perforated pipes and multi truckloads of gravel during PHASE 1 – we continued to have a water and mud problem. Our water-loving dogs use the Pool Pad all day and night – and in an effort to keep the pools full and fun – their humans tend to constantly dump and refill the pools – often dumping pool water through the fence. The pool pad stayed surrounded with mud. One of our most enjoyed amenities was – and is – one of our greatest and ongoing challenges.
1. Dogs get muddy going to pools which creates dirty pools which causes humans to dump pools even more frequently.
2. Pools of standing water collect around the lamp post and on to the ball field with riding lawn mower tires sinking and tearing up turf .
But still, an adjustment was needed – something had to be done – even if just a temp solution – until SWCDP could find a way (and funding) to install a waste water system to tie into the City sewer. SWCDP was told that we could not dump waste water into River Des Peres or into the creek – both of which are on either side of our dog park.
Soooo……We added flagstones around the periphery of the existing pool pad, added a stone back wall, added more gravel, and created a designated area for drinking buckets and hose. We also drilled holes in the large tub to limit the fill water, restricted the pad to only 3 pre-approved pools, and added a large garden with water-loving Day Lilies to the ball field side of our fence. And – we posted a sign with Pool Pad Etiquette as well as ongoing reminders via email and newsletters to our members asking for vigilance and cooperation related to water usage.
And … in August 2014, we brought in more dirt and tried to smooth out the turf just outside our fence near the Day Lily garden.
Our largest “DIG” – BIG DIG III – was actually broken into Part 1 (Dog Wash) and Part 2 (Turf Renovation) and required more than a year of planning.
Part 1 – Dog Wash
SWCDP installed a dog wash near the dog park exit – and it has become an amenity favorite. The space is large enough for a two-level washing bench and room enough for 2-3 adults plus their pooches. We rented equipment and did most of the work through a SWCDP volunteer crew; only hiring an outside contractor to run a freeze-proof water line so that the dog wash could be functional year round. The project required some deep digging, lots of drainage pipes and gravel – to create run-off areas for the waste water.
Final flooring added August 2014
SWCDP Members are eager – and happy –
to use our new sidewalk and steps!
We really lucked out in 2014. While Stika Brothers was on-site installing the front sidewalk and ADA ramp, we worked out a special deal with them for a patio in our Alternate Dog Park and the final flooring in our Dog Wash. Stika practically donated the entire project; we paid only a very modest sum and their generosity will forever be appreciated.
Upgrades, Repairs, Renovations
Through the years there have been lots of improvements. In Dec. of 2006, the City of St. Louis installed lights for the dog park. Then in March 2008, the second phase of fencing took place. This gave us what is currently known as the Alternate Park and the size of main was increased.
In the fall of 2009 a decision was made by the board to install a sprinkler system. Keeping the grass growing during the hot months had been a continuous problem. It was deemed that a sprinkler system would help with that problem. In April 2010, the sprinkler system was installed. That has proven to be money well spent.
After the installation of the sprinklers, the Board discussed the idea of installing some watering stations. At that time the members were carrying buckets of water to various areas of the park in order the the dogs to have water available. The decision was made to install 1 watering station in the Alternate and 3 watering stations in the Main. In March of 2012 the watering stations were installed. The 4-leggeds had a party.
Since the park has no sewer system, there has been a constant problem with mud and drainage of water. It was here that volunteers came together to install french drains, pavers and do grading so that water could be dispersed and not puddle. The project became known as:
BIG DIG I – Feb. 2012
BIG DIG II – Aug. 2012
BIG DIG III – April 2013
Other Park Improvements:
In 2012 the Dog Park Board approached 4 vets with the idea of a Safety First Program. Vets included are Affton Veterinary Clinic, Watson Road Veterinary Clinic, Webster Groves Animal Hospital and Big Bend Animal Hospital. The idea was to have the vets give talks and provide information on the care of our 4 legged friends. There was, also, a first aid area established at the park to provide care for minor injuries.
In Aug. of 2012 the front entrance was upgraded with bulletin boards and a year long project was begun to upgrade the signage in the front and around the park.
In June of 2012 the dog park volunteers were at it again. They created a fenced of agility area of the furbabies to play. This provided a place to put the agility equipment the park had begun accumulating a year earlier.
In June 2014 the volunteers installed a dog wash area next to the entrance. This was totally paid for by donations and selling Dog Park Gear, which we began selling 2 years earlier. This was the brain child of the President of the dog park.