The Kingwood Service Association (KSA) Parks Committee spent most of its Aug. 3 meeting discussing whether or not KSA should provide a dog park within Kingwood. About 15 residents were in attendance.
Committee member Bob Rehak of Kings Forest provided a recap of what he had learned since the prior meeting about feasibility in both East End Park and River Grove Park. In addition, Ethyl McCormick of Kingwood Association Management, KSA’s administrative contractor, provided input concerning infrastructure such as availability of water, legal aspects, maintenance requirements and insurance concerns for KSA.
Rehak opened the presentation by referring to a written handout provided to each committee member. He said, “We have a report called ‘Dog Park Update.’” Rehak went through the written report in detail and recapped the last month of activity, which included meetings with City of Houston officials including the director of parks, the idea of the unfenced option that had been suggested for East End Park at the last committee meeting, various specific fencing options for River Grove Park, and the requirements to meet flood control district requirements for fencing or any other structures, since the area is located in the actual floodway of the San Jacinto River. McCormick reported that Friendswood Development Company had no issues with creating a dog park as long as it did not impact the nearby residential area. She noted Friendswood is also incorporating dog parks in new residential developments.
Rehak pointed out that a dog park in East End Park would require changing or obtaining a specific exception to City of Houston leash laws. In addition, there is limited parking in the area, no infrastructure for water and residential areas are nearby. Regarding an East End Park location he said, “What I would really like to do is determine if there is really an interest in going forward to try to change the law.”
There was none and River Grove Park became the committee’s focus of attention. The park would be located in a designated fenced area just across the park road from the area where the restrooms, playground and exercise equipment are located. It is near a water source and is in an undeveloped part of the park. It does not interfere with current athletic fields and appears to be the best location available in Kingwood with more parking than in other locations.
Discussion focused on what information was still needed for a recommendation to the KSA Board of Directors to create a River Grove dog park. One resident stated his opinion when he said, “I think there are more important things to do.” He pointed out that there were plenty of other needs in Kingwood besides a dog park. Dee Price of Sand Creek pointed out that there was a lot more to this project than just finding the location and identifying the start-up costs. There would also be ongoing maintenance and area cleanup costs. The whole question of how a dog park would be managed was not yet addressed. A resident raised the question of whether it could be handled with some sort of lease arrangement the way the sports activities are handled within the KSA parks today.
Syd Furrow of Kings Point clarified a key consideration when he said, “If you are going to look at this in that regard, you have to look at all we are doing in the same regard. Say, OK, we spend $150,000 on dredging for how many people who use the boat dock? We spent X dollars on disc golf. How many people actually use that out of 75,000 we have in the community?” Furrow pointed out that about 42 percent of households in America have dogs and Kingwood is likely similar: “The number of people who could use the dog park is significantly greater than we have for boats and things like that, which is not 40 percent of our population.”
The committee determined it did not have enough information to make a decision, especially in regard to ongoing costs and management requirements and plans. Rehak, who has done the most work up to this point, wanted assurance that there was still interest. He said, “The only thing I would ask is if there is a sense of approval. If we are just going to kill it next month, I would just as soon use that time to do something else.”
Chairperson Chris Manthei of Bear Branch asked for a straw vote of confidence and if there was real interest in going forward or not. The vote of 13 members present was 8 to 5 to continue toward defining a full proposal before taking a final vote. It will include all initial infrastructure requirements, ongoing maintenance and management costs, and how the dog park would be managed, including any private contract management options.
The next KSA Parks meeting will be Thursday, Sept. 7 at 7 p.m. at the South Woodland Hills Community Room, 2030 Shadow Rock Dr. The public is invited to attend.
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